WASHINGTON – According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), work injuries and illnesses are at record lows for meat and poultry packers and processors.
The BLS numbers showed 4.3 cases of occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers in the meat and poultry sector. That number beat the 2017 mark of 4.8 cases per 100 full-time workers and the 2016 record mark of 5.3 cases per 100 workers.
“The data continues to prove the meat and poultry industry is committed to the highest standards of well-being of its employees,” said North American Meat Institute (NAMI) president and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “The success of our industry depends on a safe and healthy work environment for the 800,000 people who produce meat and poultry.”
Serious injuries categorized under the “Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transfer (DART)” rate, totaled 3.6 cases per 100 workers, also the lowest ever, dropping from 4.6 cases in 2017.
Numbers from the BLS continue to show rates lowering across the board when it comes to injuries and illnesses. In 2008 the industry incident rate was 10.3, and in 1998 the incidence rate was 20.1.
NAMI said it declared worker safety a non-competitive issue in the early 1990s which helped companies collaborate to find solutions that would prioritize worker safety. Since that time the trade association worked with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union to develop Voluntary Ergonomic Guidelines for the Meat Packing Industry.
OSHA continues to monitor companies regularly with record keeping of employers to ensure that injuries are reported. Significant lapses in recordkeeping would result in OSHA issuing citations and levying fines. NAMI said there has not been a significant complaint about a meatpacker in decades for worker safety.