Myth: The Meat Industry Is One Of The Most Dangerous Industries To Work In


Many years ago the industry was among the most dangerous, but over time, particularly in the last 25 years, that has changed dramatically. In 2013, there were 5.7 cases of occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 workers in the meat and poultry sector, compared to 6.3 in 2012 – a reduction of 9.5%. A decade ago that number was 14.7 per 100 workers; in 1993 the injury rate was 27.6.1

In comparison work-related fatalities in the meat industry occur at a lower rate than those for the private industry category as a whole.2

It is safer to work in meat and poultry packing and processing than the industries that produce products to cook meat (kitchen utensil, pot and pan manufacturing). It is also more dangerous to work in foundries, ship building, and the transportation and warehousing sectors, to name a few.

Many of the worker safety improvements are the result of added industry attention to the issue over the last 25 years. During that period, the industry adopted Voluntary Ergonomic Guidelines that were created in partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union and these widely used guidelines have greatly reduced the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders.3 Companies also share best practices in worker safety to try to improve it industry wide.

  1. Employer-Reported Workplace Injury and Illness Summary |
  2. Fatal occupational injuries by industry and event or exposure, all United States, 2014
  3. Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines For Meatpacking Plants |