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Report finds high rate of serious work injuries in poultry industry

When most people walk through the front door after a long day at work or school, there's one question they will inevitably ask their spouse, partner, parent, family member or roommate: What's for dinner?

While there are innumerable answers to this timeless inquiry, there's a very good chance that the person to whom it is directed will answer with an entrée that includes chicken as a primary ingredient. If you don't believe it, consider that statistics from Purdue University reveal that an astounding 8 billion chickens are consumed here in the U.S. every year.

While most of us likely don't think twice about how the chicken we consume ends up on our plates or in our bowls, a recently released report by the worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project shows that it's not as simple -- or as safe -- of an endeavor as we might imagine.

What did the report find?

According to the report, the poultry industry had the twelfth highest number of severe injuries based on data compiled by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2015.

This was ahead of auto manufacturing, steel and other industries traditionally associated with hazardous conditions.

What was considered to be a severe injury?

The report defined severe injuries as those resulting in eye loss, amputation or hospitalization.

Were there more detailed findings?

NELP researchers found that OSHA was notified of 17,533 incidents of severe work-related -- and otherwise preventable -- injuries by poultry companies in 29 states from January 2015 through September 2016. Breaking the numbers down, this translated into an average of 27 poultry workers per day losing an eye or limb, or requiring hospitalization.

The results of the NELP report are truly disturbing. Here's hoping we see the necessary response from employers.

In the meantime, those workers who suffer serious and permanently disabling injuries should strongly consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about their rights and their options concerning work comp benefits.

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