November 4, 2014
By Stephanie West
Washington, DC – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)applauds OSHA’s decision to use the “general duty clause” to protect poultry workers from dangerous workplace conditions.
Workers in this industry are often exposed to unsafe machinery, risk of falling and musculoskeletal hazards. OSHA is now looking closely at practices that result in the failure to manage the medical treatment of injured poultry workers. Often accurate records of injuries are not maintained resulting in an artificial injury and illness rate that is used to benefit the poultry industry at the expense of the safety of its workers.
The UFCW believes that the safety awards presented by the National Chicken Council and other industry groups to member poultry companies for outstanding safety performance should be reconsidered. The UFCW represents employees at poultry plants across the country. The union has called attention to the many dangers poultry workers face every day. This includes ergonomic health hazards affected by many workers. The UFCW has been successful in curbing some workplace abuses in this industry. However, too many poultry workers do not have a collective voice on the job and continue to toil in low-wage jobs that threaten their health and safety.
All poultry workers deserve better workplace conditions. OSHA’s findings have documented that the poultry industry has concealed the extent to which employees suffer from work-related injuries and illnesses. The UFCW urges OSHA to establish a National Emphasis Program to protect workers from the health and safety hazards that are specific to this industry.
*** The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries.