The meat and poultry industry applauds an announcement today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that it will develop industry and task-specific guidelines to prevent ergonomic injuries.
The meat industry can attest to the success of such voluntary programs. In 1990, the industry worked with OSHA to develop meat industry-specific voluntary ergonomic guidelines. During the last ten years, injury and illness rates in the meat industry have dropped 40 percent. In fact, OSHA has called our industry's efforts a model for others. Given our experience, we had strong reservations about the earlier ergonomic standard because it took an inflexible, "one-size-fits-all" approach, which many believed was doomed to fail.
OSHA's announcement that it will work to assist companies with compliance also is a positive and constructive approach. It is important to distinguish between companies that are struggling to do the right thing and those who simply ignore problems. OSHA's new strategy will enhance workplace safety, rather than taking a "gotcha" approach, and is a model strategy for regulatory agencies throughout government.
We also believe that those who do not work aggressively to ensure the safest possible workplace should face penalties, as OSHA has detailed in its announcement.
Finally, the creation of a national advisory committee on ergonomics will ensure that all of OSHA's ergonomic efforts are supported by credible research and that important data gaps are filled -- all of which will enhance safety for U.S. workers.
AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI's members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the U.S. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the industry. Its affiliate, the AMI Foundation, is a separate 501(c)3 organization that conducts research, education and information projects for the industry.