What Are the Risks to Food Industry Workers?

When we think of dangerous jobs, we think of roofers, heavy machine operators, and firefighters, right? But what about folks working in regular jobs, such as those in the food industry? Unfortunately, the food industry in North Carolina is rampant with both occupational diseases and injuries by accident. It is important for these workers to know the risks and remember to report any incident.

Food and beverage processing and manufacturing

Major employers in this category are found throughout North Carolina. Some of the following are representative companies:

  • Bimbo Bakeries USA
  • Butterball
  • Campbell’s
  • Morinaga
  • Mt. Olive
  • S&D Coffee
  • Sanderson Farms
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Smithfield
  • Snyder’s Lance
  • Texas Pete
  • Tyson

Conditions frequently affecting workers in this category of employment include repetitive motion injuries, chronic back and neck conditions, acute joint damage, chemical exposure and fumes, contusions and abrasions, and crushed digits and limbs due to machinery mishaps. Even in the processing plants that prioritize safety and employee training, workers still may be exposed to dangerous irritants, heavy equipment, loud noises, and extreme conditions. Workers in the food processing and manufacturing industries should remember to report any injury, incident, or disease promptly to management, even when nobody was at fault. A workers’ compensation attorney may be a great option, too.

Retail sales of food and beverage

North Carolina also is home to major groceries and convenience stores. Employees involved in the retail sales of food and beverage may be required to perform significant and repetitive lifting (stocking), reaching (bagging), and fine-motor use (cashier). Retail sales also may involve unexpected conditions such as spills, falling objects, broken glass, chemical burns, customer arguments and theft. Because many groceries and convenience stores in North Carolina operate late at night and in challenging weather conditions, workers in this category also are exposed to higher risks of slipping on ice and encountering robberies or other night-time dangers.

Delivery and transport of food and beverage

The logistics industry exposes workers to a variety of risks, including motor vehicle accidents, lifting accidents and hernias, and vibration conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Truck drivers in North Carolina are covered under a unique set of workers’ compensation rules, which the attorneys at Ricci Law Firm can explain depending on the situation.

Food service

The food service industry is fast-paced and full of risk. Servers often slip and fall. Chefs and kitchen assistants frequently suffer burns, knife cuts, and dangerous inhalants. Managers may encounter violence or threats from customers or even theft. In the food service industry, no sub-category is safe; workers in fine dining establishments get injured just like those in the fast-food industry. Sometimes, seemingly minor injuries can develop into severe, debilitating conditions. It is important for food service workers to complete an Industrial Commission Form 18 or consult an attorney if they develop a disease or experience a work-related incident.

North Carolina’s food industry is often overlooked as a dangerous field. Those on the front lines of food manufacturing, processing, sales, and service should exercise caution and should be ready to report any injury or occupational disease. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm regularly represent workers in the food and beverage industry. Contact one of their board-certified attorneys if you think you have a claim.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh

I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at (252) 752-7785 or 800-387-6406 for free, friendly advice.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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