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Ammonia-exposure injuries in the meatpacking industry

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2019 | Firm News, Industrial Workers' Accidents |

Nebraska is one of the nation’s top producers of high-quality meats. Omaha Steaks, for example, supplies citizens across the country with premium cuts of beef, chicken and pork. Meatpacking plants provide many job opportunities to workers, but they are not without several serious industrial workers’ accident risks.

An often-overlooked risk centers on anhydrous ammonia, a chemical used in meatpacking refrigeration systems. Exposure to this form of ammonia can cause many injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 70% of all chemical-related industrial workers’ accidents reported in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas involve anhydrous ammonia.

Anhydrous ammonia is a highly corrosive substance. Even minimal exposure may result in chemical burns to the eyes, skin and lungs. Due to its extremely low boiling point of -28ºF, exposure can also cause serious frostbite. Certain areas of the body are particularly susceptible to injury because anhydrous ammonia migrates to moist areas like sweaty skin or the throat.

  • Exposure to concentrations between 5 and 50 parts per million (ppm) may cause nausea, vomiting and headaches
  • Exposure to concentrations greater than 50 ppm causes mucous membrane irritation, which leads to coughing and wheezing
  • Exposure to concentrations between 300 ppm and 500 ppm is an immediate threat to life
  • Exposure to even greater concentrations can cause severe shortness of breath due to fluid in the lungs, which may result in death

As you might imagine, workplace exposure to anhydrous ammonia can take you away from your income as you recover from the experience. Worker’s compensation is there to fill the gap when industrial workers’ accidents occur. If you need help with your claim after such an accident, please take your story to an attorney. They will work to get all of the benefits you and your family need to keep your finances intact.