Food Federal agencies Musculoskeletal disorders

OSHA denies petition for poultry-processing standard; coalition undeterred

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Montgomery, AL – A group of 15 organizations says it will not stop fighting for worker protections in the poultry and meatpacking industries despite a recent setback.

The coalition, which includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, Nebraska Appleseed and 13 other groups, said March 18 that it had received notification from OSHA that its petition had been denied. The petition called on OSHA to develop a work-speed standard aimed at preventing repetitive motion injuries and musculoskeletal disorders among workers in the industries.

OSHA cited limited resources as a reason for denying the petition. The agency has recognized hazards within the industries and highlighted nearly a dozen safety recommendations.

The group vowed to continue its effort to obtain a clear, enforceable standard to protect workers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule in August declaring that maximum line speeds would remain at 140 birds per minute, not 175 birds per minute as had been previously suggested, but SPLC and other groups said more action is needed.

“We are disappointed that OSHA has failed to step up and protect poultry and meatpacking workers from permanent, debilitating workplace injuries,” Sarah Rich, SPLC staff attorney, said in a press release.