When we think about workplace injuries, the first thing that normally comes to mind are freak accidents in the manufacturing or construction industries. While there’s no doubt that those are very dangerous, we must recognize that food workers also face very serious hazards while they’re on the job.
With over 21.1 million people being employed in the food and agriculture industries, it’s no wonder so many are exposed to serious and even fatal injuries every day. Whether it’s because of neglectful employers or faulty machinery, there is no excuse for the suffering that many of these employees face.
What types of injuries do food service workers experience?
There are various types of injuries that food service employees face. For example, when inventory deliveries are made to restaurants, they typically come in large, full pallets that the employees need to unload. They can be very heavy; so when the employee tries to lift the items, they could suffer a lifting-related injury. It can also take place if they were not given the proper equipment to transport these items (if applicable), or if they were not taught the proper lifting procedures. Even if it’s just moving heavy chairs and tables around to clean underneath them, a worker could tear or strain a muscle, developer a hernia, or sustain damage to ligaments, nerves, or discs.
As there are many hot menu items in restaurants, burn injuries can be very common. There are hot cooktops, hot utensils, hot liquids splashing when a meal is being prepared, and dishwashers with hot steam flying out. The employees at the front can also suffer burns by accidentally spilling them, slipping or tripping on the floor, or touching hot plates. A slippery floor is another disaster waiting to happen. If floors aren’t kept clean and dry, an employee is bound to slip and fall. This could cause sprains, fractures, broken bones, and even spinal injuries or concussions if the fall was very serious.
Many food workers handle dangerous equipment. A serious accident with a machine could occur in a split second. For those working in larger food factories, an employee can easily get their arm broken by a conveyor belt. Those in smaller restaurants could receive an injury from blenders or rotisserie machines. Hazardous chemicals are another risk to food employees, as they create a daily toxic environment for them. Even with safety gear, any spills and leaks can cause serious skin injuries and burns. These chemicals may pave the way for respiratory problems, blindness, dermatitis, and even cancer down the line.
What long-term complications do food workers face?
Many of these injuries lead to complications over time. Burns, for instance, can lead to scars and disfigurement. This could, in turn, put the worker in emotional distress, as they may now find it difficult to go out in public (if the scar/disfigurement is in a visible spot on their body). The employee may face daily stress from just needing to go to work. If that employee already suffered some form of trauma while on the job, they may find it more difficult to return. This could lead to even more stress from knowing that they need this job to remain financially stable.
An employee may sustain long-term joint damage. They could also develop arthritis over time, which can lead to even more pain and difficulty while on the job. Other injuries include bulging discs that may require surgery, and strains that can cause lifelong pain. If a trauma sustained on the job is severe enough, the employee may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Depending on the situation and circumstances, the food worker can develop extreme anxiety, flashbacks, and recurring distress that could take many months to reverse through the help of a therapist.
It is worth noting, too, that about half of all teen workers are employed in some kind of hospitality position, including food service. Youth workers may be at greater risk of long-term complications if they get hurt on the job, as their bodies (and brains) are still developing. That means any trauma they sustain could compound over time, affecting their ability to complete their schooling, obtain additional education, or work in the future.
When it comes down to determining who is responsible for these injuries, we must look at the supervisors and safety procedures in place. If employees are being overworked, it only adds to their already-stressed bodies and minds, which puts them at an additional risk for injuries. Cleaning procedures must be in place to ensure that no employee is harmed by any slip-and-falls or hazardous chemicals. Meetings and training should be implemented on a regular basis so that employees always know how to proceed with their tasks. Employers should be attentive to their staff at all times, checking that untrained or new employees are not near dangerous machinery.
How can a Chattanooga workers’ compensation attorney help me?
An attorney will help put together all the necessary evidence for the case. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will review your medical records and work history, conduct an investigation, and work with professionals to determine how the accident happened. They will ask you critical questions to help build you the strongest case possible. Even if you work for some of the biggest food and beverage manufacturing companies in the nation, like Pepsi, Mars, McKee Foods, or The Coca-Cola Company, do not hesitate to reach out to your lawyer. In the end, neglect is neglect, and justice should be served if you were injured while on the job.
Between safety hazards and long, stressful hours, the food service industry can be an unpleasant one for manufacturing workers. If you’re a food service worker and were injured while on the job, contact one of our experienced attorneys as soon as possible. They will walk you through every step of the process and clear up any doubts or concerns you may have. We have teams ready to help you across Chattanooga, Cleveland, and North Georgia. Call Wagner & Wagner or submit our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
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