WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) announced a proposed rule that would amend current regulations governing the schedule of operations at federally inspected meat and poultry slaughter establishments. F.S.I.S. is proposing to redefine the eight-hour workday for inspection program personnel to include time needed at the workplace to put on, or "don," and take off, or "doff," required gear, time spent walking to work stations after donning required gear, and time spent walking from work stations before doffing required gear.

Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act, F.S.I.S. provides mandatory federal inspection of meat and meat food products, poultry products, and processed egg products. F.S.I.S. bears the cost of mandatory inspection provided during non-overtime and non-holiday hours of operation, while the establishments pay for inspection services performed on holidays or on an overtime basis. The regulations define the basic workweek as five consecutive eight-hour days, excluding the lunch period. F.S.I.S. proposes that the eight hours of inspection service provided by the Agency include sufficient time for inspection program personnel to put on required gear and walk to a work station as well as to return from a workstation and remove required gear. Any time over those eight hours is overtime charged to an establishment.

The Agency seeks comments on or before Sept. 8, 2010, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, identifying F.S.I.S. and the docket number FSIS-2010-0014.