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Perdue Violations Show No Company Too Big for Safety Risks

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Perdue Foods is one of the top producers of chicken in the United States, and the nearly century-old company shows no signs of stopping. The small farm turned into a massive processing industry, allowing the company to dominate meat aisles all across the country and rake in billions.

Having those millions, however, hasn’t necessarily guaranteed the quality control one would hope for their processing plants. And that apparent lack of quality has currently landed them in hot water.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) recently completed an investigation of a Perdue Foods plant in Washington and found them guilty of three safety violations, two of which were considered serious, according to a May 24 report by the Washington Times Herald.

This revelation is a serious reminder for workers all across the state of the dangerous conditions of any workplace, and the injuries that could occur as a result.

Perdue’s Violations

IOSHA’s investigation focused on a Foodcraft turkey leg processor at the plant and the various risks that were associated with it. This processor ended up having three separate risks attached to it.

One of the more serious violations at the plant was the fact that the processor was not locked out before they attempted to unjam the machine. This made the machine far more dangerous and unstable than necessary, and IOSHA’s report went so far as to call it a crushing hazard for employees.

In addition to being a crushing hazard, IOSHA also noticed that this machine was not properly guarded, leaving workers in serious danger. There was neither guarding on the processor nor on its’ carcass loading station. This guarding was meant to “protect employees from nip points, rotating parts and hazards,” and without it the machine could pose a significant threat to any worker who was not fast enough.

These were the most egregiously serious violations the report found, but were not the only ones. IOSHA also found that, despite the manufacturer requiring it, the processor did not have safety instructions included — a violation made far worse by the fact that the machine was already such a safety hazard for the other reasons.

These violations could end up costing the Washington plant a pretty penny. According to one of our partner firms Morgan & Morgan, each citation of a serious violation could result in a $5,000 fine, while less severe violations may lead to a $1,500 penalty per citation.

Risky Situations Exist Even Without a Prior Accident

In a statement about this report, a spokesman for Perdue made sure to mention that this particular plant is currently at over 350,000 hours without an accident that resulted in lost time.

It’s a nice round number, but it’s also something of a distraction. The fact that there had not yet been an accident relating to this turkey leg processor does not mean that the environment was safe. Quite the opposite — they were incredibly lucky.

In cases like these, some employers may point to the lack of prior accidents if you’ve been hurt on the job in an attempt to paint the injury as your fault and avoid paying workers’ compensation. Much like not repairing faulty equipment that causes injuries, this can be a way of cutting costs.

Even a company like Perdue — a household name with the funds for equipment and necessary safety repairs — is not immune to this. Those who work at plants for large companies like Perdue will still find themselves at risk of at-work injuries caused by dangerous conditions. The potential for some kind of risk is there no matter where you work.

Those who have been hurt on the job may be surprised to find that the conditions that caused his or her injury had been that way for some time. The company may have even been aware of these hazardous conditions, and chose to do nothing to fix them.

You may be even more surprised when you apply for workers’ compensation benefits and don’t get what you need. When this happens, it’s crucial to contact a workers’ compensation attorney like Charles A. Carlock today to determine what you may be owed and what your next steps should be. A claim denial doesn’t have to close the door on you getting the compensation you deserve.


Guide for Injured Workers (Do’s and Don’t’s) about the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Process

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Do's & Don'ts of the Indiana Worker's Compensation ProcessBelow is a list of some of the most important things an injured worker in Indiana should both know and do.  We like to call these the Do's and Don't's of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Process?

  • Always report a work injury even if you might not lose time from work or might not need immediate medical care. It is beneficial to your claim for you to notify your employer as early in the process as possible.    
  • Remember to keep an independent record of the date, time, and nature of your work injury.  In addition, make a list of witnesses, and note the name and title of the person to whom the injury is reported.  
  • Be sure to provide a complete and accurate account of how the work injury occurred and fully list all injuries (i.e. each body part) you sustained.  For example, if the injury occurred on a construction site, be specific as to where (on the site) and how the construction injury occurred.
  • Keep a record of all parties or individuals involved in the work incident.  You may have a separate “third party” case if the work accident was caused by the actions of a person or company other than your employer or a coworker.    
  • If your employer fails to file a First Report of Injury, or otherwise notify their worker’s compensation insurance company about your work injury, contact a worker’s compensation lawyer immediately. 
  • Be certain that the wages upon which your temporary total disability (TTD) is based are complete and accurate. In most cases your TTD checks should be 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage (AWW).  This calculation should include all types of income from your employer and possibly income from outside sources as well.
  • Make sure to address all of your injuries with the medical providers.  Often times injured workers focus solely on the injury that hurts the most and this can later create problems.  Even if it is your “back injury” that is causing the most pain, make sure to mention a less painful “shoulder injury” to the doctor as well.
  • It is possible that your employer (or the insurance adjuster) may want to switch you to a different medical provider.  If this occurs, contact a work injury attorney to discuss whether this is a legal maneuver…or whether it might be “doctor shopping.”  
  • If a nurse case manager contacts you, or attempts to attend your medical appointments, make sure you understand that the nurse works for the insurance company and not for you.  It is important to understand what the nurse is allowed to do and what he/she is not.
  • If your employer offers you a light duty job (or modified work) based on your doctor’s work restrictions, make sure the offer is “reasonable”, and that it does not require you to do any functions which are beyond your stated restrictions.  Under no circumstances should your employer pressure you into violating your work restrictions.
  • Do not sign any forms, documents, or settlement agreements given to you by the insurance company (or their lawyer) without fully understanding all of the legal consequences.  Some forms have specific time deadlines attached to them which can affect your eligibility for valuable statutory rights.

I hope this is helpful to injured workers around Indianapolis and throughout the entire state of Indiana.

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