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OSHA emphasis program targets food production workers in Illinois and Ohio


Photo: SlobodanMiljevic/iStockphoto

Chicago — OSHA recently launched a launched Local Emphasis Program aimed at protecting food production workers in Illinois and Ohio, who are experiencing “significantly higher” injury rates than other workers in the manufacturing industry.

In 2019, food production workers in Ohio had a nearly 57% higher rate of amputations and a 16% higher rate of fractures compared with private-sector manufacturers overall, according to an agency press release. In Illinois, those percentages were 29 and 14, respectively.

The emphasis program – which began Oct. 3 with a three-month outreach period – is focused on the 1,400-plus manufacturing facilities in the two states, where year-round and seasonal workers manufacturer and process confectionary, animal, fruit and vegetable-based products.

During the outreach period, OSHA is working to raise occupational health and safety awareness with multiple stakeholders, including employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, hospitals and occupational health clinics. Representatives from the agency will deliver safety presentations and encourage employers to use OSHA’s free consultation services to ensure compliance with machine safety standards and other applicable standards.

Between 2016 and 2020, OSHA investigated multiple fatalities and dozens of amputations, fractures, and crushed hands or fingers in the industry. The agency determined that employers had commonly failed to control hazardous energy or allowed workers to operate machines that didn’t have adequate guarding.

“OSHA will stress to employers the importance of taking steps to identify, reduce and eliminate workers’ exposure to machine hazards,” Chicago-based OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan said in the release. “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace whether workers are employed for a day, a season or year-round.”

In April, OSHA launched a similar emphasis program focused on food manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin. 

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