OSHA announced Wednesday the establishment of a Nebraska-wide special emphasis program aimed at reducing injuries and illnesses in the meat products manufacturing industry.
OSHA Omaha Area Director Ben Bare, said the program, which begins immediately, combines traditional enforcement strategies with information and educational programs that will encourage compliance with safety and health standards through partnership with industry representatives and labor organizations.
The hazards most commonly associated with meat processing facilities are well recognized, according to Bare.
Employees are often exposed to hazards such as falls, noise, cuts and amputations, as well as repetitive motion disorders, back injuries and other ergonomic-related hazards.
The 1996 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for Nebraska industries showed 3.8 to be the lost workday rate of injuries and illnesses for all private industry.
However, the rate for Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) three digit industrial group number 201, Meat Products, was over three times higher at 13.1.
The 1997 BLS data indicated that the situation had worsened. Although the private industry rate in Nebraska remained at 3.8, the lost workday rate of injuries and illness for Meat Products and Meat Packing rose to 20.2 and 23.7, respectively.
This outreach and partnership effort was designed to raise public awareness and workplace awareness of meat product manufacturing hazards and to reduce illnesses and injuries.
Bare emphasized the outreach effort encourages voluntary compliance of safety and health standards by employers and employees.
Programmed inspections will be conducted by the Omaha area office following the outreach effort to monitor that progress.
"Awareness of meat product manufacturing hazards, prevention methods, compliance with OSHA standards, and reversing the industry and illness trend within Nebraska are the primary goals of this initiative," said Bare.