Proposed USDA rule endangers poultry workers, Latino advocacy group claims

Washington – A U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed rule (.pdf file) that would speed up production lines in poultry processing plants will put workers at greater risk of injuries, suggests a new report (.pdf file) from a Latino civil rights group.

The National Council of La Raza said in its report that current regulations allowing production lines to move at a rate of 90 birds per minute commonly lead to musculoskeletal injuries among workers. Poultry workers – 34 percent of whom are Latino – also are exposed to numerous other hazards, including dermatological and respiratory illnesses.

The proposed rule would allow plants to increase to 175 birds per minute. The rule would place poultry workers at “even greater risk of injury on the job,” the report states.

NCLR recommended USDA not move forward with its proposed rule, and instead work with OSHA and NIOSH to develop a hazard mitigation plan to protect poultry workers.

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