OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska workers in the meat processing industry are more likely to be injured on the job, than many others employed in the Husker state. The higher-than-average rate has led the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch a new Local Emphasis Program in the meat processing industry.
OSHA will concentrate education and enforcement efforts on common meat processing industry hazards such as musculoskeletal and repetitive motion injuries, machine guarding, control of hazardous energy and process safety management. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data indicates that 7.5 percent of meat processing workers experienced recordable injuries or illness in 2014.
“The local emphasis program on the meat processing industry provides outreach and education to assist employers to eliminate hazardous working conditions,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA area director in Omaha. “Workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are always preventable when employers implement a safety and health program focused on hazard identification, corrective actions and employee training.”
Musculoskeletal disorders are among the most preventable injuries in the meat processing industry. Employees can suffer cumulative trauma injuries in their joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons and structures resulting from repetitive actions and motions. OSHA is focused on reducing the negative effects of these degenerative diseases and will be evaluating ergonomic stressors as part of the local emphasis program.
OSHA’s regional and/or area offices implement regional and local emphasis programs as strategic enforcement efforts to reduce injuries in address high-risk industries. Each program begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations and workers. OSHA encourages employers to use this period to bring their facilities into compliance with federal safety and health standards, if they are not already.
OSHA prioritizes general industry inspections using the most recent BLS “Days Away, Restricted or Transferred” rates and its “Days Away From Work Injury and Illness” rates.
This emphasis program ends Sept. 30, 2016, unless extended. The Omaha area OSHA office will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations, amputations, loss of an eye, and fatalities.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742). Additional information related to the emphasis program is available by contacting OSHA’s Omaha Office at 402-553-0171.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.