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Resource ID: #20707
Subject: Worker Safety
Source: World-Herald (Omaha, Neb.)
Date: 2003-10-19



The Omaha World-Herald reports on how the U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided only "minimal oversight" over the contractors who clean up meatpacking houses every night. The World-Herald found that "most of these contractors are undocumented workers, and that their cleaning is every bit as dangerous as day-time meatpacking" -- and in fact their injury rate is four times higher than normal workers in the industry. In the demand for speed from employers, many of these workers "have lost fingers, arms and even legs when they tried to keep pace. Harried workers have been known to clean cutting and grinding machines while they are still running, which is a clear violation of federal safety rules." But with undocumented workers fearful to come forward because of their legal status, and some pushed out of their jobs by their bosses when they raise safety concerns, the situation is only getting worse. The World found OSHA gave considerably less scrutiny to the problem, in part because it lumped those cleaning packinghouses into the same industry category as "janitors and maids."

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