Grocery stores and poultry processing will be the focus of the next two sets of industry-specific guidelines to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced on June 10, 2002. Representatives from both industries will work with OSHA to develop the guidelines.
“The number of ergonomic-related injuries suffered by workers in the retail grocery store industry continues to rank near the top of the list,” Henshaw explained. “While the rates in poultry processing aren’t as high, workers still suffer from too many upper extremity disorders, such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.”
“Several stakeholders within the retail grocery and poultry processing industries have committed to working with us in developing the guidelines,” Henshaw said. “Furthermore, many employers in both industries have already begun identifying and addressing ergonomic hazards. We applaud them for stepping forward and taking a proactive stance for their workers.”
Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, praised the move saying, “OSHA is systematically dealing with the industries which have been shown to have the most problems. The Bush Administration’s team is on the right path to reducing workplace injuries and I expect this approach to show significant results as it gets implemented.”
President and CEO of the The National Grocers Association (N.G.A.), Tom Zaucha, applauded the cooperative effort announced by Assistant Secretary Henshaw, and pledged to work with OSHA to develop guidelines that assist retailers in developing ergonomic solutions.
“The retail grocery industry is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy workplace. Employees are a company’s most important assets,” said Zaucha. “N.G.A. has consistently found that voluntary collaborative efforts between government and the private sector are far more workable than costly and burdensome mandates. N.G.A. will work cooperatively with OSHA as it proceeds in the coming months to develop industry guidelines for retail food stores.” Zaucha also assured that retailers will continue to review, refine, and implement policies and workplace practices to assure the well being of employees.
The poultry industry also pledged its support for the guidelines. “We are pleased to work with OSHA in developing these guidelines,” said Mike Klun, chairman of the poultry industry’s Joint Safety and Health Committee, formed by the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation. “The poultry industry has extensive experience in ergonomics, and many companies already have guidelines in place. We can contribute the lessons we have learned in how to avoid ergonomic problems and how to deal with them when they occur.”
The poultry industry has focused on ergonomic problems since the 1980s and has emphasized workstation redesign, personnel training, and early intervention and treatment as ways to minimize musculoskeletal problems in the workplace. “The improvement came about through industry’s recognition of the problem and commitment to concentrate on research and development of workable solutions,” Klun said.
Draft guidelines for each of these industries are expected to be ready for public comment later this year. The guidelines will be made available for review on OSHA’s website; a Federal Register notice will announce when the guidelines will be posted.