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Injuries, illnesses in poultry processing at new all-time low

Poultry industry’s rate of 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers was below 5.1 rate for similar agricultural industries.

The U.S. poultry processing sector has reduced its incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses by 84% over the last 25 years and continues to see declines, the poultry industry's Joint Industry Safety & Health Council noted Nov. 7, pointing to the recently released "2018 Injury & Illness Report" from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Joint Industry Safety & Health Council consists of members from the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. (USPOULTRY), the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation. Collectively, the three organizations represent companies that produce 95% of the nation's poultry products and directly employ more than 350,000 workers.

The council reported that the total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2018 was 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), down from 3.8 in 2017. The poultry industry’s rate was below the rate of 5.1 for similar agricultural industries in terms of injuries per 100 full-time workers and lower than the rate of 4.2 for the entire food manufacturing sector, while all of manufacturing was 3.4, the council said in its announcement.

The 2018 rate of 3.5 for poultry processing represents an 84% decrease from 1994 (the oldest data available on the BLS website), when the recorded rate was 22.7, the council said.

“Employee safety has been and will always be a priority for the poultry industry. The industry continues to focus its efforts on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses, especially musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, by acknowledging the benefit of implementing ergonomics and medical intervention principles while continually implementing new technology and automation in the workplace,” the council said in its statement. “Though the past two decades have shown a notable decrease in the numbers and rates of injury and illnesses, the poultry industry is steadfast in pursuing new and inventive ways to protect our workforce.”

Noting that the industry's “employees are our most important asset, and their safety is of paramount importance,” USPOULTRY, the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation said “the poultry industry has continually focused its energies on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses. This most recent data recognizes the excellent safety performance achievements the poultry industry has accomplished. Surpassing the ‘all of manufacturing’ percent is the next milestone our industry hopes to achieve in our continuing quest to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees.”

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