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August 1, 2014

Dear Poultry Industry Employer,

The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) support effective efforts by the poultry industry to protect the safety and health of employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees. This starts with knowing what processes or substances in your workplace could hurt workers. That is why we are writing to provide you with a tool to help you fulfill that responsibility by preventing musculoskeletal disorders.

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries to the nerves, tendons and muscles and are common among workers in the poultry processing industry. There are many such disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, epicondylitis and "trigger finger." Earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health completed an investigation at one poultry processing plant and reported that more than 40 percent of production line employees had evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Preventing musculoskeletal disorders is good for your workers and makes good business sense, too.

To assist you in your effort to keep workers safe and reduce the prevalence of these disorders, we are sending you OSHA’s updated guidelines on the "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Poultry Processing".

These guidelines provide recommendations for the poultry industry that, if implemented, will reduce the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The heart of the guidelines is the process that will help you identify and address workplace hazards.

Small and medium sized employers may request that an experienced health and safety professional visit your workplace for a free and confidential consultation through OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program. OSHA also has compliance assistance specialists throughout the nation to help answer questions.

If you would like additional copies of the guidelines or have any questions about workplace safety and health, or to learn how to request compliance assistance or a free consultation, please contact OSHA at 1-800-321-6742 or through


Alfred V. Almanza
Administrator, FSIS, USDA

David Michaels, PhD, MPH
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA