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AMI Statement on OSHA's Ergonomic Standard

Monday, November 13, 2000

The U.S. meat and poultry industry employs nearly half a million workers. We are one of the last labor-intensive industries and we value and protect our people.

Our industry’s aggressive, voluntary efforts to enhance worker safety have created dramatic, documented improvements. Much of this is due to voluntary ergonomic guidelines for the meat packing industry, which were developed in a cooperative industry-government-labor effort in 1990. Between 1990 and 1997, injuries and illnesses in the meat packing sector dropped 16.4 percent, while injuries in and illnesses in the meat processing sector dropped 25 percent. These declines prompted former Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Administrator Joe Dear to call the meat industry a worker safety model for other industries.

Given our success with flexible, voluntary programs, the meat industry opposes OSHA’s mandatory standard, unveiled today. In our experience, each workplace is unique and requires safety programs that acknowledge this fact. Yet today’s rule seeks to impose a single, one-size-fits-all rule on the nation’s diverse manufacturing industries. The mere fact that a safety rule could attempt to be all things to all industries speaks volumes about the rule’s content. It is both generic and rigid – neither of which encourage the safety and innovation that has translated into so much progress for the meat and poultry industry.

In fact, AMI believes so strongly that this rule is misguided that today we joined a coalition of business groups in a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block the standard.

Our industry benefits by ensuring safe workplaces. Our voluntary efforts have resulted in dramatic improvements. OSHA’s ergonomic standard will impose enormous costs on businesses with no real benefit and punish 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.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Sara Lilygren
Senior Vice President

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