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Pennsylvania to consider processing plant worker safety bill

Lawmaker says no laws exist protecting these workers

Workers at meat packing and food processing facilities in Pennsylvania could be getting help regarding workplace safety.

State Rep. Jim Haddock has put together House Bill 2235, which was recently approved by the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee.

The bill would create training requirements for workers in the meat packing and food processing industries, which would have to be provided in languages that at least 5% of the employees speak, provide unpaid sick leave, set up health and safety committees, and establish requirements for exposure to infectious diseases and prevention plans at each facility.

The measure would also give the state Department of Labor and Industry the power to levy fines of as much as $100,000 for those found in violation.

According to Haddock, Pennsylvania has more than 2,300 food processing plants, but no law that protects workers in the industry.

In addition, the state lawmaker said recent data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that 27 workers a day suffered amputation or required hospitalization in the meat packing industry between 2015 and 2023.

Recurring strain injuries, chemical burns, hazardous chemical exposure, falls, lacerations and cuts, and amputations are some of the more common health cases involving workers, and Haddock said many of the injuries could be prevented with better training and communication. Line crowding, exhaustion, poor working conditions, and the lack of personal protection equipment are other causes leading to injuries.

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