In a prime example of the lengths to which an employer will go to maintain profits and maintain a seemingly spotless safety record, a Greenville poultry plant has been accused of forcing workers with on-the-job injuries back on the job only hours after having medical procedures to repair things like lost digits and broken bones, according to an Associated Press report.
House of Raeford Farms boasts that its Greenville plant has gone more than 7 million hours without a “lost-time accident,” meaning no worker has been injured badly enough to miss an entire shift. But according to the company’s own safety logs, at least 8 workers at the plant suffered amputated fingers or broken bones – all during the time the plant claimed to have millions of safe working hours dating back to 2002. Managers kept the streak alive by requiring injured workers to return to the plant – in some cases hours after medical procedures. When none of the injured workers missed a complete shift, the company was able to keep its safety record intact.
The article details the story of Cornelia Vicente, an employee who was packing chicken tenders at the House of Raeford when a conveyor belt snagged her glove, snapped her right arm and ripped off the tip of her index finger. Only hours after her surgery, a House of Raeford nurse who had come to the hospital told Ms.Vicente that the company would expect her back at the plant early the next day. The following morning, managers put Ms.Vicente to work wiping down tables and handing out supplies, she said.
A plant the size of the Greenville factory, which employs roughly 650 workers, can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation costs by returning injured workers to their jobs quickly, insurance experts say. By reporting fewer lost-time accidents, a company also can reduce the likelihood of workplace safety inspections.