The United States Department of Labor reports that around 8,000 injuries are reported at poultry processing plants across the country every year. In October, a 59-year-old man died while replacing a pallet jack battery at southern Delaware chicken processing plant Allen Harim. His fatal work accident was one of a string of safety violations at chicken plants throughout the state in recent years.
Allen Harim had received over a dozen Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) worker safety violations over the past few years, raising questions about how safe poultry processing plant workers really are, and what can be done to better protect them on the job.
A Closer Look at Allen Harim’s Safety Record
In 2015, OSHA reprimanded Allen Harim’s operators, accusing them of not just failing to report worker injuries, but of also lacking the “proper medical oversight” to protect employees. They agency called medical management practices at the plant so inadequate that they created “fear and distrust” among workers.
Some of the problems OSHA found at Allen Harim include:
- Excessively long employee wait times for the restroom
- Job requirements, including repetitive motion and hard labor, that put workers at risk of harm
- Improper equipment causing musculoskeletal disorders, including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
In response to these violations, OSHA proposed $38,000 in penalties – an amount which Allen Harim challenged. A year later, The United States Department of Labor, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 27, and Allen Harim reached a settlement. Allen Harim would pay one-third of the proposed fines and agree to upgrade equipment and revisit employee training.
The settlement’s conditions included a nonadmission of guilt on behalf of the poultry plant. A spokesperson for the Delmarva Poultry Industry asserts that injury rates among chicken processing workers are much lower than other agricultural industries.
Work Accidents and Wrongful Death in Delaware
Based on OSHA’s findings, Delaware’s chicken plant workers do not seem to be protected as well as they could or should be on the job. Surviving loved ones of workers who are killed on the job have legal recourse to seek accountability for a loved one’s fatal work accident.
The loss of a family member impacts their survivors emotionally, physically, and financially. The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to hold negligent parties liable for a loved one’s death, and recover financial compensation for their loss. The first step in a wrongful death suit is to demonstrate a third party’s responsibility for a preventable fatal accident.
Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is calculated based on the estimated financial loss a loved one’s passing will cost a family over time, in addition to non-economic losses like love, support, and companionship.
Milford Wrongful Death Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Are Trusted Advocates for Surviving Family Members
Wilmington work injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow know what it takes to demonstrate liability in a wrongful death lawsuit. With our network of investigators and accident reconstruction specialists, we work to seek justice on behalf of your loved one. In addition to work accidents, we handle wrongful death suits for victims of car and truck accidents, defective products, and medical malpractice.
To learn more about your legal options and the best next step after a family member’s preventable fatality, schedule a consultation by calling (302) 427-9500 or contact us online. Our team of compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys proudly represent clients throughout the state of Delaware, including Wilmington, Hockessin, Newark, Glasgow, Bear, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Georgetown, Elsmere and Seaford, as well communities in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County.