US poultry orgs refute poultry worker safety claims
The US Poultry & Egg Association and the National Chicken Council refute claims made in a recent report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice about poultry worker safety.
The report, Unsafe At These Speeds, begins by stating that injuries in the poultry industry are much more frequent than for the private workforce as a whole, citing 2010 OSHA data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the injury and illness rate for poultry processing workers is 5.9% compared to 3.5% for all workers in the private sector. Recently released 2011 numbers place poultry processing workers at 5.8% compared to 3.5% for all workers in the private sector.
A white paper written by USPOULTY and NCC provides more accurate approaches that should be taken to put the OSHA data in proper perspective. First, a more accurate comparison would be to compare poultry workers to all manufacturing workers, who incurred injuries and illnesses at a 4.4% rate in 2011.
It is also noteworthy to compare poultry processing’s 5.8% rate to other industries and professions. For 2011, the BLS reported injury/illness rate for automobile manufacturing workers (NAICS code 3361) was 7.5%; for office furniture manufacturing (NAICS code 3372), 5.2%; for passenger airline workers (NAICS code 481112), 7.9%; and for state and local government workers, 5.7%. The poultry industry’s injury and illness rates are in line with many other manufacturing industries.
USPOULTRY and NCC go on in the paper to refute the specific claims about worker health and safety, line speeds, unionisation, workers’ compensation, anaerobic manure lagoons and the proposal to modernise poultry inspection. The steady and impressive reduction in injuries and illnesses in the poultry industry, 74.5% since 1994, is highlighted.
The poultry industry is proud of the advancements it has made in worker safety over the last 30+ years and the ongoing efforts for continuous improvement.
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