The incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses within the poultry sector’s slaughter and processing workforce has fallen by 83 percent over the last 20 years and continues to decline according to the 2017 Injury and Illness Report recently released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2017 was 3.8 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), down from 4.2 in 2016. The poultry industry’s rate of 3.8 was below the rate of 6.4 for similar agricultural industries in terms of injuries per 100 full time workers and lower than the rate of 4.5 for the entire food manufacturing sector.
Poultry processing’s 2017 rate of 3.8 represents an 83 percent decrease from 1994 (the oldest data available on the BLS website), when the recorded rate was 22.7, demonstrating the immense advancements the industry has made in improving safety for its workforce.
“Employee safety continues to be of utmost importance to our industry. The poultry industry continues to focus its efforts on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses, especially musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, by recognizing the benefit of implementing ergonomics and medical intervention principles, while continually effecting new technology and automation in the workplace. 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 safeguard our workforce,” said the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council in a statement regarding the report’s release.
The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council consists of members from USPOULTRY, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation. Collectively, the three organizations represent companies that produce 95 percent of the nation's poultry products and directly employ more than 350,000 workers.
“The poultry industry has been industrious in reducing recordable injuries and illnesses for decades. This recent data recognizes the excellent safety performance achievements the poultry industry has accomplished. We will continue to implement additional practices and tools to further protect the people that work hard every day in our plants to provide high-quality, safe and nutritious protein for consumers,” said John Starkey, USPOULTRY president.