Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human rights group, has published a 175-page report accusing the meat industry in the United States of putting workers at risk for injuries, and calling for the establishment of ergonomics standards to help reduce worker injuries. Members of the meat industry, however, claim that the group’s report is based on old and false information.
The report, titled “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants,” states that high production speeds and poor training are two of the primary reasons workers are at risk of injury.
But the National Chicken Council and the American Meat Institute both pointed to errors contained within the group’s report. “The rate of injury in poultry processing is lower than it is in industry as a whole, according to publicly available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” reported the National Chicken Council in a press statement.
Earlier this year, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation entered into an alliance with OSHA focusing on safety and heath issues in the workplace, particularly in regard to ergonomics. Additionally, OSHA finalized its poultry processing ergonomics guidelines in late 2004.
The American Meat Institute noted in a press statement that “[t]he meat and poultry industry has seen a significant and consistent decline in injury rates and illnesses for more than a decade,” and that “[w]orker safety and retention has to be a high priority if meat packing companies want to stay in business.” The meat industry also has OSHA-created guidelines regarding ergonomics dating back to 1993.
Sources: CNN.com; OSHA