USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) will put its inspectors on a stopwatch soon to find out how much time it takes to put on a coat, hairnet, helmet, and earplugs; walk to and from their inspection stations; and take off the “gear.” The measurement will determine how much time each plant will have to pay for, on an overtime basis, or incorporate into its regular schedule of operations, according to a memo from the Office of Field Operations.

Supervisors in each plant should meet with management before setting up the time measurements, according to the memo from Dr. Kenneth E. Peterson, assistant administrator of the Office of Field Operations.   Management should be allowed to witness the measurement, as well as a union representative, the memo stated.  Dr. Peterson’s memo is available on NCC’s Web site under the “members only” section.

The memo said that protective clothing and items such as hairnets and beard nets should be included in the time measurement if required by the plant’s sanitation plan.  FSIS also requires poultry inspectors to use a helmet and hearing protection.  The supervisor is instructed to start the stopwatch before the inspector opens the locker to retrieve these items, puts them on, and walks to the inspection stations, and then back to the locker.  The measurement will become the “donning and doffing” time that will be added to, or incorporated into, an eight-hour shift.

Cumulative donning, doffing, and walking time of eight minutes or more may be treated as reimbursable overtime or included in the establishment’s regular schedule of operations, according to the memo.  Times of less than eight minutes must be incorporated into the schedule of operations.  Allowance must also be made for donning and doffing for lunch, the memo says.

The new time requirements go into effect on July 11.  A memo summarizing the key points of the USDA memo has also been posted to NCC’s Web site under the members only section as well.