Food Manufacturing

Congresswoman to OSHA: Investigate alleged worker safety issues at Texas poultry plant

chicken production line

Photo: andresr/iStockphoto

Washington — Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging OSHA to investigate reported workplace safety violations at the Sanderson Farms poultry plant in Bryan, TX.

In a letter sent to OSHA acting leader Loren Sweatt on Dec. 7, DeLauro cites a Nov. 26 report by The Guardian that details workers being denied bathroom breaks for up to five hours while working on the processing lines at the third largest poultry provider in the country.

“All workers have the right to a safe workplace,” DeLauro said in a press release, “and no worker should have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck.”

The Guardian report details workers feeling intimidated about asking for breaks or reporting health and safety violations for fear of punishment from supervisors. In addition, some workers reportedly are refusing to drink water, despite the strenuous work, to avoid having to use the restroom.

“In May, I met with workers from the Bryan plant who expressed the same concerns about the denial of the right to go to the bathroom in violation of OSHA’s standard,” DeLauro states in her letter.

Citing a December 2017 Government Accountability Office report, DeLauro mentions an industry representative who told GAO that bathroom breaks are believed to be delayed or denied “to maximize production output” in processing plants.

“I urge the agency to investigate these claims … and to conduct an inspection where compliance officers speak not only with management, but workers and their representatives,” DeLauro said in the release.

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