When people sit down to a meal in New York, they might be unaware of the problems faced by workers in meat and poultry plants. Clear details about their working conditions remain difficult to document because workers are afraid to make complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers that speak with inspectors expect to lose their jobs if they say anything negative about their employers.

A study recently published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported disturbing findings after speaking with meat and poultry plant workers across five states. According to employee interviews, supervisors routinely denied workers restroom breaks. People reported that some workers choose to wear diapers because they cannot take bathroom breaks. Interviewees also expressed dissatisfaction with on-site medical care at the processing plants.

According to the study, employers also have workers using chemicals that have not been assessed for health risks by federal regulators. The accounting office concluded that the fear of retaliation among workers prevented OSHA from gaining sufficient information during inspections to address problems.

When a workplace accident results in someone getting hurt or sick, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is in place to pay for medical care. A person needs to report the injury at work to initiate the insurance claim. When someone is discouraged from reporting an accident or denied information about the insurance policy, an attorney could support his or her efforts to obtain benefits. Legal representation might help someone overcome issues like access to insurance forms or a denied claim. At attorney could strive to help his or her client complete forms accurately and negotiate with an insurer to obtain approval for necessary medical care. When necessary, a lawyer could even file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation for medical care and lost wages to which his or her client has a right to collect.