The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has instituted new poultry plant regulations that may threaten the workplace safety in poultry plants and food safety altogether. These new regulations are part of the HACCP (Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points)-Based Inspection Models Project, abbreviated as HIMP. Organizations that represent consumers and farm workers recently spoke with members of Congress and officials for the USDA in Washington D.C. about the potential dangers of the new HIMP poultry plant regulations.
Specifically, the groups defending farm workers take issue with line speeds in poultry plants. The HIMP program allows chicken plants to speed up their evisceration lines significantly – from 140 to 175 birds per minute. These groups fear the increased speed of the lines may be more likely to cause worker injuries.
At 4.3 injuries for every 100 workers in 2013, the rate of workplace injuries for poultry plant workers is higher than the average factory worker rate. Employees in these plants perform repetitive motions for hours at a time, which can result in lasting injuries that make them unable to perform other job functions or even move in basic ways.
According to reports, one worker was fired after developing carpal tunnel syndrome following 17 years of deboning chickens. One employee reportedly developed an arthritic shoulder after three years on the job due to repetitive motions. Many see HIMP regulations as a significant worker safety issue and are attempting to prevent more workers from being injured on the job due to these new regulations.
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