Working with dangerous equipment is part of the meatpacking industry. As you go through your workday, you take precautions to help ensure you get home safely at the end of your day. You combat the hazards you see every day. Sadly, it’s the dangers you can’t see that could damage your health. The animals themselves create biological agents that could cause you a host of medical issues.
Biological agents in the meatpacking industry
Understanding the unseen dangers you face could help you better prepare yourself to avoid an illness that could ultimately threaten your life. The most often seen biological agents in your industry include the following, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
- Animals can transmit influenza viruses that can cause a pandemic or seasonal flu from the animals to you.
- Livestock-associated MRSA occurs when you come into contact with cattle and pigs. It can cause soft tissue and skin infections.
- You could contract Brucellosis through either infected aerosol or direct contact. If you experience a fever, muscle aches, mild headaches, rash, and perhaps even vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to seek medical attention since this condition could prove fatal in some people.
- Coxiella burnetii causes a bacterial infection called Q fever, which can lead to hepatitis or pneumonia. You may want to watch for symptoms such as a headache, fever, cough and muscle aches.
Another alarming risk for workers like you who process meat and poultry is lung cancer. Researchers are not sure why this happens, but it could relate to cancer-related chemicals and/or viruses involved in the processing and packaging industry. The problem with these biological agents is that they can cause similar symptoms to each other. Your employer should provide you with the proper personal protective equipment you need to avoid exposure to these and other work-related illnesses. Depending on your duties, you may need a facemask, goggles, waterproof gloves and more.
You should receive training regarding the health hazards you face along with how to help prevent them.
If you do end up ill
Your flu-like symptoms may be caused by a work-related illness, which means it could be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. You could receive benefits such as the payment of your medical and medical-related needs, a portion of the income you will lose during your recovery, and possibly more depending on your illness, your prognosis and more.
You should have the freedom to focus on your recovery instead of pursuing the benefits you need. Fortunately, you could work with an attorney with experience in Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation insurance program.