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The unsafe work environments in the meat industry, particularly poultry processing plants, have been frequent subjects of discussion. A recent report indicated that U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch an investigation into allegations of unsafe conditions for workers at a poultry plant in the Texas city of Bryan. This followed a media report in November about workers who are denied bathroom breaks.

The congresswoman asked OSHA’s compliance inspectors not to limit their conversations at the plant to supervisors and managers, but to speak also to workers and their representatives. She was particularly concerned about workers who reported that they fear reprisal when they go to the bathroom because management regards those breaks as slowing down production time. They also are afraid to report health and safety issues to supervisors because it typically leads to punishment.

Line workers in a poultry plant have strenuous jobs, in conditions that could cause workers to dehydrate if they do not take in enough fluids. Reportedly, the workers at the Texas plant said they avoid drinking water or other liquids to limit the need to go to the bathroom. Dehydration could have severe consequences, and it could even cause death.

Dehydrated workers are at risk of making errors that could lead to catastrophic workplace accidents. Injured workers will be entitled to seek financial assistance through the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance system. An attorney with experience in this field can assist with the navigation of benefits claims in pursuit of compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages.