Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Don't Let Chicken Packing Plants Operate Their Conveyor Belts Twice As Fast - May 29th, 2012
In response to the United States Department of Agriculture's proposed guidelines that would allow poultry processing plants to operate conveyor belts at a maximum of 175 chickens per minute, or twice the speed at which they currently operate:

These measures would make working conditions even more dangerous for poultry plants workers and would negatively impact the industry's 300,000 workers. Meatpacking is already one of the most dangerous jobs in our country, the main source of danger being the dangerous speed at which conveyor belts operate, according to Human Rights Watch and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Food Empowerment Project explains, "When you combine sharp tools and automated machinery in a high-paced, crowded environment, injuries are inevitable." A 22-month investigation into poultry processing in the Carolina by the South Carolina Charlotte Observer found that workers broke limbs and tore off their fingers.

The United States Department of Agriculture does not have any guidelines to protect poultry plant workers' safety. Rather, worker safety guidelines fall under food sanitation guidelines, although these are not the same things.

In 1999, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that chicken slaughtering and processing workers had the fifth highest rate of repeated-trauma injury, at an average of 337 per 100,000 workers. A 2007 study by Duke University found that 43 percent of workers surveyed suffered from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which The Nation reported can be so severe that one worker could not even hold a glass of water and another's thumb joint had almost disappeared.

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