The meat and poultry industry applauds Congressional action this week to repeal the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) controversial Ergonomic Standard.
This action is a clear victory for flexible, common sense approaches to worker safety and health. In 1990, the U.S. meat industry together with OSHA and the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), developed Voluntary Ergonomic Guidelines for the Meat Packing Industry -- guidelines that have been called a model for other industries. These guidelines have resulted in sustained declines in injury and illness in the meat industry. The keys to these successful guidelines are their flexibility and specificity to our industry -- elements missing in the Ergonomic Standard.
Our industry’s aggressive, voluntary efforts to enhance worker safety have created dramatic, documented improvements. Between 1992 and 1999, general injuries and illnesses in the meat packing sector dropped nearly 30 percent, while injuries and illnesses in the meat processing sector dropped nearly 25 percent. OSHA Director of Safety Standards Programs Marthe Kent, the chief architect of the rule, recently called the meat industry a “star” for its 60 percent decrease in Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) injuries over the last decade.
Our industry benefits by ensuring safe workplaces. OSHA’s ergonomic standard would have imposed enormous costs on businesses with no real benefit and punished our industry, which has led the way in improving workplace safety.
AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.