In a research report made by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine said that rate of injuries sustained by workers of the poultry farm are quite high and it is also linked to the emphasis the company places on safety.
Researchers had found high rates of musculoskeletal injuries. Almost half of workers reported pain in their hands or arms during the previous month and one in five of those workers was unable to work for at least a day in the previous year because of the pain.
The survey was based on a representative sample of Latino workers in six counties in western North Carolina: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin. The results, not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, were distributed to community groups in a working paper.
Poultry processing is the largest and fastest growing sector of the meat products industry, according to the authors. In 2002, North Carolina and four other states accounted for 70 percent of all broiler production in the United States. Many of the workers are immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, according to the authors.
Face-to-face interviews with 200 poultry workers found that 119 workers (60 percent) reported having one or more of these occupational injuries or illnesses in the past month: respiratory, skin, leg/foot, neck/back or arm/hand.
Musculoskeletal problems were the most commonly reported work-related injuries. Thirty-six percent of workers surveyed had neck or back pain, and one in three of those workers missed work in the past 12 months because of the pain.
The injuries and illnesses varied by company, but on average exceeded rates that plants reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 2003, a reported 8.1 of every 100 full-time poultry workers nationwide were injured or made ill. North Carolina reported a 9.4 percent injury and illness rate.
The researchers also found that workers at the company with the fewest reported injuries perceived a greater emphasis on workplace safety compared to workers at the other two companies.