Eleven Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials and 45 safety and health representatives of the poultry industry met on Dec. 3 to discuss OSHA’s Region 4 and 6 Emphasis Program focused on the poultry industry.

“The meeting provided a rare opportunity for the poultry industry and regional leadership from OSHA to discuss the upcoming emphasis program on poultry processing,” said Paul Pressley, USPOULTRY Executive VP - Industry Programs. “OSHA took the opportunity to discuss some of the trends they see during their inspection process, and the poultry industry was able to share many of the advancements that have been made in workplace safety throughout the industry, leading to the significant reduction in workplace injuries.”

A video message from OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, was shared and his remarks can be downloaded here

OSHA Regional Administrator - Region 4, Kurt Petermeyer along with Region 4 and 6 Assistant Administrators, Billie Kizer, Jeffery Lewis and Josh Flesher, presented a summary of the Regional Emphasis Program, discussing the elements of the program, the process of scheduling and inspection procedures. OSHA Occupational Physician, Dr. Kathleen Fagan, spoke on medical management of musculoskeletal disorders and biological hazard such as campylobacteriosis and histoplasmosis.

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While acknowledging that the industry continues to seek new ways to improve workplace safety, Pressley led a discussion of the many advancements in worker safety and health which have resulted in a significant reduction in workplace injuries and illnesses in poultry processing facilities. As evidence of this improvement, twenty years ago the industry’s OSHA recordable injury and illness rate was almost double the rate for the entire manufacturing sector and now it is essentially the same as all manufacturing.

Dr. Doug Britton spoke briefly on the work conducted by the Georgia Tech Research Institute Agriculture Technology Research Program for which he is manager. The program has had great success developing technologies to measure and monitor physical stresses for improved ergonomics as well as developing equipment to replace many manual tasks in poultry plants. Dr. Britton described the next generation of automated de-boning, referenced as intelligent cutting. Cameras and computers will model each carcass and control the automated cutting to maximize quality and yield.

There was extensive discussion and successful dialogue between the OSHA officials and the industry. If you have any questions, please contact Pressley.