Work Safety in the Meatpacking Industry

Work Safety in the Meatpacking Industry - 1 Running head:...

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1 Running head: MEATPACKING INDUSTRY Work Safety in the Meatpacking Industry: Examining Recommendations for Better Safety Standards TUI University Immigrant Workers in the Meatpacking Industry:
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2 MEATPACKING INDUSTRY Examining Recommendations for Better Safety Standards The meatpacking industry, which includes the slaughtering, processing, and packaging of meat, has been associated with a high incidence of accidents, injuries, and illnesses in the past and currently. When the OSHA Act of 1970 became law, the meat and meat products industry was designated by the Department of Labor as one of the five Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) to receive priority attention as part of OSHA’s efforts to target the industries having the highest rates of occupational injuries. This high rate of injuries is due to the widespread use of knives, hooks, and circular saws within the meat industry. Tools of this nature are especially linked to cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) within the meat industry and especially for boning operations, which involve removing meat from the bones of animals. CTDs are chronic, overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, tenosynovitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and affect the soft tissues and nerves of the upper extremities. These injuries are actually classified and reported as illnesses according to OSHA. In 1995, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in one year there were 705,800 cases of days away from work that resulted from over exertion or pain due to repetitive motion. Estimated costs associated with lost work days and compensation claims related to musculoskeletal disorders range from $13 to $20 billion annually. Prior to 1994, the meatpacking industry had many of their employees using vibrating hand-held knives to remove meat from bones. Meatpacking industry reports that 20%- 40% of those employees reported hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries, which all fall into the CTD category. The cool temperatures required at meatpacking plants also contribute to the industries high incidence rate of CTD. In the late 1980’s, the meatpacking industry’s incidence of disorders caused by repeated trauma was about 75 times that of industry as a whole. Since then, the introduction and use of the Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) system has reduced the
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3 MEATPACKING INDUSTRY incidence rate of these injuries. The AMR system provides efficient separation of meat from bone without the widespread use of vibrating knives. Although the use of vibrating knives is still sometimes necessary, the AMR system has provided the industry with an effective alternative to their use. Immigrant workers are regularly utilized in the meatpacking industry, hotels, construction, and other unskilled job markets such as farming. A study performed by the University of California at Las Angeles which was published in 2001 estimated undocumented immigrants were contributing $300 billion to the U.S. gross national product annually. Illegal immigrants from all nations in the U.S. number about 11 million, and the total immigration
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Work Safety in the Meatpacking Industry - 1 Running head:...

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