ATLANTA – Federal safety inspectors in four Southeastern states recently launched a program aimed at reducing injury and illness in poultry workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said its new Regional Emphasis Program in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi is intended to prompt employers to protect their workers and reduce injury and illness rates. Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job compared to other private sector workers, according to OSHA.

“The Regional Emphasis Program is designed to reduce employee exposure to crippling injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders, and to ensure the industry records all occupational injuries and illnesses accurately,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA regional administrator in Atlanta.

The program began with three months of education and prevention outreach activities for employers, associations and workers. Outreach efforts will be followed by a targeted enforcement phase which includes on-site inspections and reviews of poultry processing production operations, working conditions, recordkeeping, chemical handling, and safety and health programs.

The emphasis program ends Oct. 25, 2016, unless extended, the agency said.