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This page addresses the hazards in the poultry processing industry.

This industry can be divided into two stages each with its own particular hazards. The first stage is the raising of live birds to the desired weight, delivery to the processing plant and preparing the live birds for slaughtering. The second stage is the slaughtering, processing, and packaging of the birds. Major hazards in the first stage are generally respiratory hazards resulting from exposure to organic dusts (litter, manure, dander) and ammonia. These are controlled using ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE). Additional hazards include those associated with agricultural machinery, feed delivery systems, waste removal systems, and ergonomic hazards especially as birds are prepared for slaughtering. A potentially significant hazard is the presence of microbiologicals and endotoxins in the organic dusts. In the second stage, common elements in an effective safety and health program include control of ergonomic hazards to prevent cumulative trauma disorders, machine guarding and PPE to prevent cuts, care of walking/working surfaces to reduce trips and falls, design and maintenance of electrical systems, and lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental startup of machinery.

There are currently no specific OSHA standards for poultry processing.

How do I find out about employer responsibilities and worker rights?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers.

OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA's Regional & Area Offices web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Small Business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential on-site consultation service to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. On-site consultations services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection.

If you think your job is unsafe or you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It's confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

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