TUCKER, Ga. – Maintaining and enhancing worker safety in packing and processing facilities is a never-ending process requiring a long-term focus by senior company management.

“Safety comes first. It does not make sense to try to cut corners in your rendering plant and not put extra money toward safety until someone gets injured, when you could have implemented a safety program from the beginning,” said Steve Harris, off-site corporate area safety manager with the Poultry Product Optimization/RVAF Group of Tyson Foods, during USPOULTRY’s recently held 2013 Poultry Protein & Fat Seminar in Nashville, Tenn.

Titled “Controlling Industrial Hazards in Rendering Plants”, Harris’ presentation provided managers with background information on the health effects employees could experience when exposed to hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Best practices to reduce this gas in the workplace, which includes monitoring systems, “hands-on” training programs and proper plant ventilation, were also covered.

“OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] wants to ensure that we are not being exposed to H2S and that we are doing everything possible when traces of it are found,” he told poultry-rendering managers in attendance.

A regulatory update was provided by Leah Wilkinson, director of Ingredients, pet food and state affairs with the American Feed Industry Association, which included information about the Food Safety Modernization Act. Additional information on the feed rules due out soon was also provided, and she reminded managers the rule will be patterned after Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP) and will establish Good Manufacturing Practices. Rules currently out for comments, including the Hazard Analysis and Preventive Control rule and the Foreign Supplier Verification rule, an international portion of the Preventive Control rule, were also covered by Wilkinson.

An update on Salmonella interventions in the rendering plant was provided by Dr. Charles Starkey, director of technical services for American Proteins. “We all have a role in food safety, whether you are in quality assurance, accounting, or operations, because the Food and Drug Administration audits that are getting ready to occur will be pretty in-depth,” he said. “One big issue that is going to come up is Salmonella.”

Starkey also provided basic tools to help managers control salmonella in their plants, including proper housekeeping and reducing pests.

Additional topics covered included Poultry Protein & Fat Council Report; Research Funding Update; Pet Food Customer Expectations; Communicating With the Changing Workforce; Financial Impact of Basic Rendering Calculations and Decisions; Rendering Plant Atmosphere Best Practices; Worker Safety; Controlling Industrial Hazards in Rendering Plants; and The Science of Air Scrubbers.