The incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses within the poultry sector’s slaughter and processing workforce has fallen by 84 percent over the last 25 years and continues to decline, according to the 2018 Injury and Illness Report recently released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2018 was 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), down from 3.8 in 2017. The poultry industry’s rate of 3.5 was below the rate of 5.1 for similar agricultural industries in terms of injuries per 100 full-time workers and lower than the rate of 4.2 for the entire food manufacturing sector, while all of manufacturing was 3.4.
Poultry processing’s 2018 rate of 3.5 represents an 84 percent decrease from 1994 (the oldest data available on the BLS website), when the recorded rate was 22.7, demonstrating the vast advancements the industry has made in improving safety for its workforce.
“Employee safety has been and will always be a priority for the poultry industry. The industry continues to focus its efforts on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses, especially musculoskeletal disorders such carpal tunnel syndrome, by acknowledging the benefit of implementing ergonomics and medical intervention principles, while continually implementing new technology and automation in the workplace,” said the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council in a statement regarding the report’s release. “Though the past two decades have shown a notable decrease in the numbers and rates of injury and illnesses, the poultry industry is steadfast in pursuing new and inventive ways to protect our workforce.”
The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council consists of members from USPOULTRY, the National Chicken Council, and the National Turkey Federation. Collectively, the three organizations represent companies that produce 95 percent of the nation’s poultry products and directly employ more than 350,000 workers.
“Our employees are our most important asset, and their safety is of paramount importance,” said the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation in response to the report’s release. “Perhaps more than any other industry, the poultry industry has continually focused its energies on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses. This most recent data recognizes the excellent safety performance achievements the poultry industry has accomplished. Surpassing the ‘all of manufacturing’ percent is the next milestone our industry hopes to achieve in our continuing quest to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees.”