Despite the U.S. chicken industry making notable progress in employee safety over the past 25 years, the industry won’t rest until achieving 0 workplace injuries and illnesses, every year. Always looking to improve employee safety across the entire supply chain is making a notable difference. Workplace safety was the topic explored this week on the Chicken Check In blog.

Collective commitments and protection investments are showing big results, and the industry’s safety record speaks for itself:

  • The poultry processing sector has achieved an 86% decline in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable injuries and illnesses over the past 25 years. Injuries and illnesses also continue to decline, according to the most recent report released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2019 was 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers (per year), down from 3.5 in 2018. This was below the total recordable illness and injury rate for the entire food manufacturing sector, which was 4.0 cases per 100 full-time workers, per year.
  • Injuries in poultry processing have fallen below the levels of  “all manufacturing,” not just food manufacturing, for the first time since OSHA began recording rates.

Keeping Workers Safe and Healthy During the Pandemic

When COVID-19 stay-at-home orders increased demand for fresh chicken and led to empty grocery store shelves, thousands of industry workers bravely stepped up as federally designated frontline workers to help meet demand. As workers answered the call to help maintain a steady food supply for our nation and our world, the U.S. chicken industry worked diligently to keep employees safe.

In fact, chicken companies are keeping workers safer than ever because of additional protective measures adopted in response to COVID-19. Companies follow the latest CDC and local health department guidelines. Many processing plants consulted infectious disease physicians to develop personalized site safety plans. A number of heightened protective measures were enacted, including increased sanitation, elevated employee health screenings and providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Supporting Overall Employee Wellbeing 

Employee wellbeing goes far beyond safety programs, training and other hallmark protections of safe workplaces. Chicken companies are finding additional ways to care for employees and their families – to show appreciation for the hard work it takes to nourish dozens of countries across the globe, and to support employee health and wellness. Although company policies vary, benefits may include paid sick leave, bonus/hazard pay, waiving the short-term disability waiting period, making personal time off policies more flexible and free chicken for employees.

To hear real stories of how U.S. chicken companies are prioritizing employee safety and wellbeing, check out the 2020 U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report here.