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Accommodating Employees in Meat Packing Fields

Real-life Case Studies from the Job Accommodation Network


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Situations and Solutions:

JAN provides this publication as a way to share accommodation situations and solutions from meat packing related jobs. For workers with disabilities, it is imperative to consider providing job accommodations to enhance the productivity of these valuable workers. These are real-life case study examples that JAN has helped resolve. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, food processing occupations include many different types of workers who process raw food products into the finished goods sold by grocers, wholesalers, restaurants, or institutional food services. These workers perform a variety of tasks and are responsible for producing many of the food products found in every household. The majority of these individuals work in the meat packing industry.

A production worker with a traumatic brain injury had difficulty remembering processes. The individual was accommodated with an electronic checklist on a handheld computer, which allowed him to track ingredients, tasks, and processes.

A meat trimmer with asthma had a respiratory impairment that was exacerbated by material used to maintain heavy equipment in the production warehouse. The individual was reassigned to another position that was in a work area away from large, industrial equipment.

A butcher with carpal tunnel syndrome had limitations in grasping and handling tools and other objects, especially various sizes of knives.  JAN provided information on ergonomic knives.

A maintenance worker with a burn injury had difficulty walking and standing for long periods. The employer purchased a small utility vehicle for the individual to move about the production facility.

A meat packing inspector with post-polio syndrome was limited in balancing and had difficulty maintaining his balance on slick floors. The company implemented a policy change that involved having the floors cleaned during specific times of the day, prior to his inspections.

A meat processor with a back impairment had difficulty lifting materials from a storage area to his work area. These two areas were several feet apart. JAN provided information on lifting devices and carts.

A meat packer with cancer had fatigue due to treatment for cancer. The individual was offered a flexible schedule that changed his tasks to filling specialty order requests. These requests were made several weeks ahead of time and allowed for additional flexibility in hours.

A meat trimmer with arthritis had difficulty standing for long periods. JAN provided information on anti-fatigue matting and stand/lean stools.

A meat processor who was deaf was promoted to a position working in a busy warehouse. The individual needed to communicate with several lead processors throughout the workday. The facility provided handheld text messaging devices for all lead processors.

A freezer operator with low vision had difficulty reading visual notifications, both electronic and in print. JAN provided information on handheld portable magnifiers.

A meat processor with a blood disorder was limited in working in extremely cold environments and requested a modification in her dress code. The employer modified her dress code, allowing her to wear heavier clothing.

A manager with post-traumatic stress disorder had difficulty working with some types of hearing protection due to experiencing a traumatic event while wearing hearing protection in the military. JAN provided information on ear muffs.