Ergonomics Federal agencies Fines/penalties Musculoskeletal disorders

Poultry industry groups criticize OSHA enforcement

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Photo: Martynasfoto/iStock/Thinkstock

Tucker, GA – A pair of poultry industry associations blasted OSHA for alleged inconsistencies in the agency’s approach toward enforcing worker safety and health regulations.

The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association said OSHA lacked specific evidence when it issued 11 citations against a Wayne Farms facility in Jack, AL. The penalty stemmed from alleged safety violations involving musculoskeletal disorders and other workplace hazards.

Both poultry groups said the citations made little sense.

“The poultry industry finds it ironic that OSHA, in effect, is attacking the very same safety guidelines that it developed in cooperation with the poultry industry many years ago,” the groups said in a press release.

The poultry groups cited data from Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the rate of workplace illnesses, including musculoskeletal injuries, has dropped by 62 percent in poultry processing plants during the past decade.

The groups alleged that OSHA “inexplicably changed its interpretation of the rules” by classifying proactive measures such as exercise-strengthening programs, as well as minor discomfort, as a recordable injury or illness.

In a press release, OSHA administrator David Michaels said workers at Wayne Farms were put at risk.

“OSHA found that workers in this plant were exposed to safety and musculoskeletal hazards and suffered serious injuries as a result,” Michaels said.