A recent report details the true cost of food in the United States and finds it is more expensive than most people think. Based on statistics from the federal government, the Center for Progressive Reform calculated that one farm worker dies every day of the year, working to produce the food we buy in the supermarket. Many of these farm workers may not be covered by workers’ compensation laws, and they are excluded from federal labor laws.
And, of course, it is not just farm workers who are injured and die in food production. Industrial food plant workers, truck drivers and warehouse workers, who are all essential to the complex system of growing, processing, transporting and selling the wide variety of food sold in this country, all are subject to injuries or death from workplace accidents.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), responsible for maintaining a safe workplace for American workers is greatly over taxed and understaffed. The violations that their inspectors discover are probably the tip of the iceberg.
As the explosion of the West Fertilizer plant demonstrated, which had last seen an OSHA inspection in 1985, OSHA simply does not have the staff to adequately police the American workplace.
When a worker dies on the job, OSHA’s enforcement capability is limited. The maximum fined a company may receive from OSHA for a worker’s death is $7,500. In addition to the 4,000 workers who die in a year, tens of thousands are injured.
Many have workers’ compensation available to help them with their recovery, but the process can be confusing and if you have been injured, speak with a workers’ compensation attorney for help with your claim.
Source: Peoples World, “Report: Food on American tables costs a life a day,” Mark Gruenberg, April 25, 2013