Poultry processor Wayne Farms cited by OSHA

November 5th, 2014 by Julie Ferguson

As we approach the holiday season and millions of Americans plan for poultry as a dining choice, OSHA has cited Wayne Farms for a variety of serious worker safety violations. While these types of citations constitute news that is generally only of interest in the health and safety circuit, they speak much more widely to general public health issues that should concern us all.
OSHA initiated its inspection of Wayne Farms after worker complaints about dangerous conditions in the company’s Jack, Alabama facility. According to the SPLC, which filed the complaint:

“The complaint, filed on behalf of nine current or former employees, describes how workers are subjected to dangerously fast work speeds that cause disabling injuries, prevented from getting medical treatment and even fired for reporting injuries or taking time off to see a doctor. It also outlines how workers are required to pay the company for some of their protective equipment. They are even denied reasonable access to the bathroom, according to the complaint.”

Celeste Monforton reports on the OSHA’s findings of serious and repeat violations for “prolonged repetitive, forceful tasks, often in awkward postures for extended periods of time” and gross deficiencies in the company’s lockout/tagout procedures, a violation that had previously been leveled at one of the company’s other processing plants.
The health and well-being of food processing workers is inextricably linked to important public health considerations. Injured, over-tired workers are not a good front-line defense against salmonella and other dangerous food contaminants. Last year, the USDA was considering a proposal to speed up bird processing from an already demanding 140 birds per minute to 175 – see our post USDA: What’s up with your “for the birds” food processing legislation? After a two year battle over the issues, the Agriculture Department finally dropped the proposal this past July. On the other hand, the USDA also privatized and decreased the number of food inspectors and failed to act on antibiotic-resistant salmonella, so it wasn’t all good news.
NIOSH Finds Alarming 42 % Rate of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) at South Carolina Poultry Processing Plant. (See the full report)
The human cost of bringing poultry to the table .
Reactions Vary to USDA’s Poultry Inspection Rule
Food & Water Watch Sues USDA Over New Poultry Inspection Rule

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