US poultry industry illness, injury rates still low

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Nonfatal occupational injury and illness incidences in the US poultry sector, which includes slaughter and processing, is still low, according to the recently released 2010 Injury and Illness Report published by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 2010, the total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate was 5.9 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year). This total is elevated a little from 5.5 recorded in 2009, but less than 6.1 in 2008.

Regarding injuries per 100 full time workers, the US poultry industry’s rate of 5.9 was below the rate of 6.9 for all animal slaughter and processing. The US poultry processing industry’s 2010 rate of 5.9 equals a 74 percent drop from 1994, which is the oldest data available on the BLS website, when the recorded rate was 22.7.

Continuing efforts to improve the US poultry industry’s worker-safety record include:

  • Sharing non-competitive practices. A recently released whitepaper titled Ergonomics in the Poultry Industry - A Review of 25 Years of Industry Efforts details numerous industry efforts to enhance worker safety.
  • Working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to develop an instrument that assesses musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risks in poultry tasks. This tool measures upper extremity stresses associated with poultry deboning and cutting jobs. It also provides quantitative data to help in workstation and tool redesign plus process workflow improvements to reduce stresses and strains associated with repetitive work.
  • Work with equipment manufacturers and suppliers to improve machine guarding on new equipment plus provide adequate disconnects to assist and facilitate proper lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) procedures.
  • Working with personal protective equipment suppliers, which has evolved into improvements in cut resistance of protective handwear, reduced fogging issues with safety eyewear and improved slip resistance in safety footwear to address lacerations, foreign objects/splashes and slip, trips and falls.
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