Friday, March 27, 2015

New Poultry & Meatpacking Work Speed Standards Request Denied

In December 2014, Nebraska Appleseed, the Southern Poverty Law Center and 10 other labor rights groups sent a letter to Department of Labor asking the agency to respond to a petition they originally submitted in September 2013 demanding new work speed standards for poultry and meatpacking plants. Specifically, the groups want limits on speeds, which are now as high as 325 cattle per hour in meatpacking plants and 175 birds per minute in poultry plants, to minimize cumulative trauma disorders and musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
A recent statement revealed that OSHA formally denied their petition. The agency cites “limited resources” as the reason, saying it cannot conduct the work necessary to create safeguards specifically for these workers.

“Despite OSHA’s denial, there is still an urgent need for a clear and enforceable work speed standard that protects 500,000 poultry and meatpacking workers across the country,” Omaid Zabih, a Nebraska Appleseed staff attorney, said in a statement. “We should not ignore the vast amount of medical and epidemiological literature, reports, surveys and newspaper accounts that all connect permanently disabling repetitive motion injuries to excessive work speed.