WASHINGTON – In order to recognize those facilities that have achieved a high level of safety performance through the implementation of innovative and effective safety and health programs, the Joint Poultry Industry Safety and Health Council announces the first annual safety award program.

This program is open to National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association members with poultry processing plants, hatcheries, feed mills or rendering facilities that have injury and illness rates below the industry average for three consecutive years.

Workplace injury and illness rates for the poultry industry have declined by 73% over a 15-year period (1994 through 2008), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The dramatic reduction in recordable injuries and illnesses is not surprising when you consider that over the past 25 years the industry has put considerable emphasis not only on complying with safety regulations but also on proactively tackling safety challenges,” said Craig Wyvill, retired division chief of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Food Processing Technology Division states. “[The industry’s] efforts have changed the way safety is handled in processing plants today.”

“The overriding purpose of establishing safety excellence awards for our member organizations is to recognize the outstanding safety performance achievements of member companies and to encourage continuous safety and health program improvement throughout our industry,” said Brian Rodgers, Joint Poultry Industry Safety and Health Council chairman and director, safety and risk management, Butterball LLC.

Award program rules and applications may be obtained at http://www.poultryegg.org/files/SafetyAward.doc. The application deadline for this year’s awards is March 15, 2010. The annual awards will be presented during the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry, June 9-11, at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council consists of members from the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation. The three organizations collectively represent 95% of the nation’s poultry products and employ hundreds of thousands of workers.