Regional Emphasis Program to reduce illness and injuries at Southeastern chicken processing facilities

Regional Emphasis Program to reduce illness and injuries at Southeastern chicken processing facilities

Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers. This prompted leading federal safety and health inspectors to act in four Southeastern states to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Monday announced the launching of a new Regional Emphasis Program in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi which aims to prompt employers to protect poultry industry workers properly and minimize injury and illness rates.

According to data from the U.S Department of Agriculture, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi ranked first, third and fifth, respectively, among the nation’s largest chicken producers, accounting for 18 of the 51 billion pounds of chicken produced in the U.S.

The program will begin with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations and workers.

After this, OSHA will start its targeted enforcement phase, which include on-site inspections and a review of poultry processing production operations, working conditions, recordkeeping, chemical handling and safety and health programs to ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

“The Regional Emphasis Program is designed to reduce employee exposure to crippling injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders, and to ensure the industry records all occupational injuries and illnesses accurately,” said OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta, Kurt Petermeyer.

The program will end October 25, 2016 unless extended.