The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation are concerned about OSHA’s recent attempts to expand the agency's authority - conducting wall-to-wall inspections of poultry processing facilities whenever they receive notice of any accident or employee complaint.
Like any employer, poultry processors are subject to inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Regardless, the poultry industry remains committed to the safety, health, and wellbeing of the frontline workforce. That commitment is demonstrated by the tremendous progress the poultry industry has made in reducing worker injury and illness rates, which have declined 81% in the last 20 years according to the 2014 Injury and Illness Report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In late April, the industry associations above released their official answer to OSHA's expanded inspections for poultry processors:
Poultry companies currently cooperate extensively with OSHA through—
Normally scheduled comprehensive (i.e.; “programmed”) inspections, which can be conducted at any time. Facilities to be inspected must be selected on a random, administratively neutral basis.
- Specialized inspections targeted on particular hazards or industries pursuant to special emphasis programs, such as the Regional Emphasis Programs for Poultry Processing in Regions 4, 6 and 7. Facilities must be selected on a random, administratively neutral basis from a list prepared in advance.
- Investigations of a specific accident, injuries, complaints or fatalities. However, the courts have ruled that investigating a specific accident does not give OSHA probable cause to expand the inspection beyond the scope of the initial reason for the investigation, unless they identify other hazardous conditions in the course of the investigation. Even then, the inspection may be expanded to include only those areas or conditions as to which OSHA can show probable cause.
The poultry industry fires back.
While the industry agrees that dedicated investigation of accidents directs concentrated effort and resources for successful strengthening of safety procedures, in a letter to OSHA on March 4, the industry requested that OSHA abide by well-established rules governing the process of selecting facilities for inspections.
Processors beieve that OSHA’s plan overstepped the legal boundaries of the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable searches and seizures. These boundaries have been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Marshall v. Barlow’s.
The poultry industry is committed to health and safety, but it also takes the law seriously. Key industry players expect OSHA to fulfill its mission within the protections set by the Constitution.
ABOUT POULTRY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is the all-feather organization representing the complete spectrum of today’s poultry industry, whose mission is to progressively serve member companies through research, education, communication and technical assistance. Founded in 1947, USPOULTRY is based in Tucker, Ga.
National Chicken Council The National Chicken Council (NCC) represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.
The National Turkey Federation is the national advocate raising awareness for its members' products, while strengthening their ability to profitably and safely deliver wholesome, high-quality, and nutritious food to consumers worldwide. NTF represents growers, processors, hatchers, breeders, distributors, allied services and state associations. NTF is found at EatTurkey.org, on Twitter @TurkeyGal and on Facebook as Turkey. The Perfect Protein®