The chicken industry is playing a responsible leadership role in improving worker safety in its workplaces and reducing the incidence of injuries and health problems such as conditions associated with repetitive motion.
In fact, the rate at which injuries and illnesses occur among poultry processing workers in the U.S. has reached its lowest level ever and is below the rate found in food manufacturing in general, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For poultry processing, the rate of injury and illness in 2006 was 6.6 per 100 full-time workers, down from 7.4 in 2005. The rate has been cut to less than half the level of 14.2 recorded in the year 2000.
The poultry industry rate was below that of the food manufacturing sector, which was 7.4 per 100 full-time workers, and slightly above the rate of 6.0 for all manufacturing, according to the federal report.
Detailed data are available at the BLS web site at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm
The poultry industry is working in a partnership with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to improve its performance even more. Under terms of an agreement signed with OSHA in November 2007, companies in the chicken and turkey industries will work together with OSHA to implement a new alliance on worker safety, especially concerning machinery hazards. Under the agreement the industries will develop training and education programs on equipment safety in English and other languages, develop and communicate information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards, and convene a dialogue on equipment safety issues to help forge innovative solutions in the workplace.
Workplace safety is a key objective and core value for all poultry processing companies, which strive to provide a safe work environment for all employees. Among the numerous programs and policies in place and initiatives undertaken by poultry companies are:
Health and safety are important concerns of the management of each company, which works to reduce injuries and illnesses, time away from work, employee turnover, and workers’ compensation costs, among other business objectives.
Employees are trained in how to do their jobs in the safest and least stressful manner possible.
Training is conducted in multiple languages as needed to meet with needs of a diverse workforce.
Some companies have on-site wellness centers so that employees can get medical attention on company time.
Many jobs are being automated – done by machines instead of humans – as improved technology becomes available.
In other cases, technological improvements are used to perform portions of the job, to improve workplace ergonomics.
Full-time safety managers and registered nurses are assigned to monitor the health and safety of plant employees and treat problems at an early stage, avoiding more serious conditions later.
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.