DESTIN, Fla. – The poultry industry acknowledged processors' efforts to implement effective employee health and safety programs during the 2014 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry in Destin, Fla. The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council selected award recipients.

At the conference, 29 facilities received the highest level of recognition, “Award of Distinction” while the other categories included “Award of Honor” and “Award of Merit”.

“The 2014 awards program resulted in a record number of award recipients despite more stringent requirements to qualify, further highlighting the industry’s commitment to workplace safety,” the Council noted. “Congratulations to these facilities and their management teams. The awards recognize their excellent safety performance achievement as a result of effective and innovative programs.

“The notable and constant decrease in illness and injury rates among poultry’s workforce over the last two decades is a direct consequence of their dedication to worker safety,” the council added.

The poultry industry has made substantial progress in improving employee safety, the Council said. The poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2012 was 4.9 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), down from 5.8 in 2011, the Council reported. Also, the total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate declined 78 percent from 1994, the oldest data available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council consist of members from the US Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation. Collectively, the three organizations represent companies that produce 95 percent of the nation's poultry products and directly employ more than 350,000 workers.