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Regulatory Update: OSHA Implementing Measures to Reduce Food Processing Worker Injury Rate

Nov. 16, 2022
In 2019, OSHA found that food production workers in Ohio had a nearly 57% higher rate of amputations and a 16% higher rate of fractures compared to the overall rates for manufacturers in the private sector.

Food production can be a dangerous industry. And OSHA wants to do something about it.

Citing injury rates among the more than 90,000 food production workers in Illinois and Ohio significantly higher than other manufacturing workers, the U.S. Department of Labor has stepped up its outreach and enforcement efforts to reduce workplace hazards and better protect workers in these states.

On Oct. 3, 2022, the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration began the initial outreach phase of Local Emphasis Program focused on more than 1,400 manufacturing facilities in Illinois and Ohio where year-round and seasonal workers manufacture and process confectionery, animal, fruit and vegetable-based products.

In 2019, OSHA found that food production workers in Ohio had a nearly 57% higher rate of amputations and a 16% higher rate of fractures compared to the overall rates for manufacturers in the private sector. In Illinois, these workers experienced a nearly 29% higher rate of amputations and 14% higher rate of fractures when compared to rates for private-sector manufacturing jobs.

Once OSHA completes the three-month outreach effort, the program empowers the agency to schedule and inspect select food industry employers in Illinois and Ohio whose injury rates exceed the state average among all manufacturers. In April 2022, OSHA established a similar program in Wisconsin.

"With the establishment of this Local Emphasis Program, OSHA will stress to employers the importance of taking steps to identify, reduce and eliminate workers' exposure to machine hazards," said OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan, in a statement. "Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace whether workers are employed for a day, a season or year-round. This responsibility includes providing workers with training and orientation in the language they understand and making sure proper safety precautions and procedures are followed to prevent serious or fatal injuries."

Between 2016 and 2020, OSHA investigated multiple fatalities, along with dozens of workers suffering amputations, fractures and crushed hands or fingers. Investigators often determined that the employers commonly failed to control hazardous energy or allowed workers to operate machines without adequate guarding.

In its outreach phase, OSHA will raise safety and health awareness with employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, local hospitals and occupational health clinics. Agency representatives will also deliver presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders, and encourage employers to use OSHA's free consultation services to help them implement machine safety strategies and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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