Food & Beverage Manufacturing

Workers’ Compensation in the Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry

Employers that manufacture and sell food and beverage products normally can obtain workers’ compensation insurance without much difficulty.

  • The overall cost of work comp insurance coverage runs higher than the average industry due to the greater risk associated with manufacturing.
  • The cost of work comp coverage for sugar refineries runs about double the cost of coverage for other food manufacturers.
  • The smaller food and beverage manufacturers purchase work comp coverage from the various insurance carriers.
  • National and international food & beverage manufacturers often set-up their own captive insurance company and self administer their claims.

The physical hazards associated with manufacturing include:

  • Working around machinery
  • Noise
  • Lifting and moving products
  • Repetitive motion.

Safety issues include:

  • Those related to working with machinery with moving parts
  • Proper use of protective gear
  • Use of proper lifting techniques

The majority of the workforce is factory workers. The food and beverage manufacturers will also have sales people, truck and delivery drivers, office staff and management. The workforce can be spread over many states for the national and international companies, or can be all local for the small companies.

Injuries tend to be slightly greater than average, when they occur (as reflected by the work comp rating codes).

  • The national and international companies often have a nurse or doctor at the manufacturing facility to treat minor injuries.
  • In the states where the employer selects, the smaller manufacturers will often have a nearby medical provider who they can refer their work comp injuries to.
  • Where the employee selects the medical provider, the employers often provide a list of nearby facilities for the employee to select from.

The indemnity benefits for employees at food and beverage manufacturers will reflect those of their state, but average slightly higher. Occupational injuries from repetitive motion, like carpal tunnel,  are common with the resulting disability benefits.

Some categories related to food and beverage manufacturers that would have the same or similar work comp issues include:

  • Fruit and vegetable packers
  • Meat, fish and poultry dealers
  • Breweries and wineries
  • Bakeries
  • Diary product packagers
  • Butcher shops

Transitional / Modified Duties in the Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry

Temporary transitional duty should be easily identified and utilized in this industry. Most employees should be accommodated through modification of their own job or by performing tasks of other jobs within their abilities identified by the physician.

Capital expenditures for injury-reducing equipment such as lift-tables can pay for themselves in this industry and make accommodation easier.

If there is an applicable union contract, be sure to review the terms of the contract to verify modified duty is not prohibited or restricted. If it is, work with the union to have the restrictions removed; explain that it is in the best interests of the union to reduce workers’ compensation costs.

Examples of temporary accommodation include:

Production Line Worker: If weight limitations exist, consider transfer to another line with lighter requirements or to assembling boxes for shipping.
Plant Worker: If repetitive use limitations exist, consider rotation with other jobs that vary in tasks and are not repetitive.
Plant/Production Worker: Consider bringing employees into the office to catch up on filing, data entry or light cleaning.


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