Poultry Industry Strives to Improve Worker Safety

According to the National Chicken Council (NCC), the poultry industry is working to reduce the incidence of injuries and health problems among workers, particularly conditions associated with repetitive motion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicate a decline in nonfatal injuries and illnesses for poultry processing workers in the United States. In 2006, the injury and illness rate for these workers was 6.6 per 100 full-time workers, down from 7.4 in 2005 and 14.2 in 2000.

Under an agreement signed with OSHA in 2007, NCC said companies in the chicken and turkey industries will implement new programs and initiatives to bolster workplace safety, including developing training and education programs on equipment safety in English and other languages; developing and communicating information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards; and convening a dialogue on equipment safety issues to help forge innovative solutions in the workplace.

NCC also pointed to the following programs and policies that can help the industry improve worker safety:

  • Training employees to do their jobs in the safest and least stressful manner possible;
  • Conducting training in multiple languages to meet with needs of a diverse workforce;
  • Adding on-site wellness centers to some companies so employees can get medical attention on company time;
  • Creating more automated jobs as improved technology becomes available;
  • Using technological improvements to perform portions of the job, resulting in improved workplace ergonomics; and
  • Assigning full-time safety managers and registered nurses to monitor the health and safety of plant employees and treat problems at an early stage, avoiding more serious conditions later.

BLS statistics list a 2006 injury and illness rate of 7.4 per 100 full-time workers in the food manufacturing sector, compared to the poultry industry’s rate of 6.6 and manufacturing’s rate of 6.0. The rate for all private industry is 4.4.

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