Meatpacking Safety

Reducing Injuries and Hazards in the Slaughterhouse – Slaughter and Breakdown Tasks

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the prevalence of injuries and illnesses in the meatpacking industry is one of the highest among all industries. To reduce your risk of getting hurt or sick on the job, you must first identify and understand potential hazards and then learn how to protect yourself.

Types of Hazards

  • Animals:Workers can be injured by animals when they are unloaded and brought into the plant. Incorrect stunning and slaughtering can result in unpredictable and violent reactions. The movement of carcasses, weighing up to half a ton or more also poses a possible danger. Bodily fluids from carcasses (blood, fat, etc.) can make floors wet and slippery.
  • Chemicals and Pathogens:Workers, especially cleanup crews, are exposed to a number of products that have strong chemicals, including disinfectants. In addition, workers are exposed to ammonia used for refrigeration. They are also exposed to blood, viruses, fecal matter and bacteria.
  • Machines and Tools:Many meat and poultry jobs still require the manual use of knives, particularly in meatpacking plants where animals vary widely in size and shape. Increasing mechanization, while reducing the number of workers exposed to injury on processing lines, can increase the type and severity of injuries by machines that cut, slice, saw and grind. Large objects, such as forklifts, are also a hazard to workers.

To reduce your risks of accidents, consider the following:

  • Attend training on the proper use of cutting equipment and machine guarding devices. Also abide by all rules concerning the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Avoid dust and aerosol-generating tasks, such as the use of compressed air or high pressure washers for cleaning.
  • Take precautions when handling and storing detergents and disinfectants. These items should not be stored or transported with food or beverages, and should be stored in a locked area.

Learn more about meatpacking hazards by contacting your GDI Insurance agent!