Workers in the poultry processing industry now have federally-encouraged ergonomics protection as voluntary ergonomics guidelines for the industry were made official by OSHA on September 2, 2004.
In its third set of industry specific guidelines, OSHA concentrates on reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) via management support, employee involvement and training. Additionally, the guidelines stress detecting problems in the workplace, how to find ergonomics solutions, the goal of injury reporting and the importance of evaluating ergonomics efforts to determine the overall effectiveness. The guidelines also offer suggestions on when and how to implement specific ergonomics enhancements like hand tools and workstation design, to improve overall workplace ergonomics.
In a press statement marking the finalization of the guidelines, OSHA administrator John Henshaw explained that “[t]hese [guidelines] are voluntary guidelines intended to build upon progress made in the poultry processing industry. [OSHA] will continue working with those who’ve helped us deliver this important product — individual firms in the industry, trade and professional associations, labor organizations, and the medical community — to reduce ergonomic-[preventable] injuries, which is always our principal goal.”
While the poultry processing guidelines were released in draft form in August 2003, their finalization makes them the third industry to receive federally-crafted voluntary guidelines for ergonomics. Other industries with existing voluntary guidelines are the retail grocery industry and the nursing home industry. OSHA has also announced that it is drafting guidelines for the shipyard industry although no guidelines, draft or otherwise, have been released to date.
The 29-page poultry processing voluntary ergonomics guidelines document can be accessed via OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.