OSHA Reaches out to Poultry Processors in Southwest
OSHA Region VI conducted workshops in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in December 2015 to share safety and health information with employers in the poultry processing industry. The workshops covered methods to protect workers from hazards such as dangerous equipment, musculoskeletal disorders, infectious pathogens, high noise levels, and hazardous chemicals.
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick at work than other private sector workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the nation’s largest chicken producing states.
OSHA offered the workshops as part of its outreach under the Regional Emphasis Program (PDF*) for Poultry Processing Facilities in Region VI, which runs through October 25, 2016. OSHA Region IV also implemented a similar Regional Emphasis Program. These emphasis programs include a period for outreach and education, followed by a targeted enforcement phase under which OSHA will conduct inspections.
The workshop in Arkansas was held on December 10, 2015 at the Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. The University of Texas at Arlington supported the event by providing the website for registration, a live televised feed to attendees in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a video archive of the event. There were approximately 70 attendees, including representatives from 14 poultry processing plants, four temporary staffing agencies, and two union locals.
At the three-hour workshop, Gary Orr from OSHA’s National Office discussed ergonomic hazards and corrective measures. Tom Bean from Butterball in Jonesboro, Arkansas, spoke about OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) and how a VPP site addresses hazards in the poultry industry. Joel Neisler from Zero Mountain, which has several facilities in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), gave a presentation on Process Safety Management.
OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels provided a video message. In addition to their work in organizing the event, several representatives from OSHA Region VI gave presentations. Regional Administrator John Hermanson provided welcoming remarks. Josh Flesher, Assistant Regional Administrator for Cooperative and State Programs, moderated the event. Carlos Reynolds, Area Director for the Little Rock, Arkansas Area Office, described the outreach and enforcement efforts that the Area Office is taking to protect workers in the industry. Clark Thomas, Project Managers for the Arkansas Consultation Program, discussed how the Consultation Program is working with OSHA to address the hazards in the industry.
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