OSHA focuses on reducing illness and injury at chicken processing facilities

Agency to use education and enforcement deployment

Posted October 30, 2015

According to OSHA, poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers, facts that are leading federal safety and health inspectors to act in four Southeastern states to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors affecting industry workers.

On October 26, OSHA launched the a new Regional Emphasis Program in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi intended to prompt employers to protect poultry industry workers properly and reduce injury and illness rates.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi ranked first, third, and fifth, respectively, among the nation's largest chicken producers, accounting for 18 of the 51 billion pounds of chicken produced in the U.S.

OSHA's emphasis program begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations, and workers. Employers are encouraged to use this period to bring their facilities into compliance with OSHA standards, if they are not already.

The agency will then begin its targeted enforcement phase, including on-site inspections and a review of poultry processing production operations, working conditions, recordkeeping, chemical handling, and safety and health programs to ensure compliance.

The emphasis program ends October 25, 2016, unless extended. OSHA area offices will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

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