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Faster Line Speeds in Meatpacking Plants May Pose Risks


The New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may put workers in pig slaughter plants at risk as it eliminates line speed limits. Historically, workers in meatpacking plants already suffer a much higher rate of injuries than average workers. Common injuries include:

Workers in meatpacking plants also experience higher rates of illness than employees in other private sector industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, illness and injury rates may be much higher due to underreporting because workers fear losing their jobs if they miss work.

After the USDA published its proposed NSIS changes in February 2018, it received more than 83,000 comments. Regarding the many concerns about worker safety, the USDA stated that the Agency does not have the authority to regulate issues related to worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency tasked with promoting workplace safety. Although OSHA provides guidelines for safety in the meatpacking industry, it does not specify limits on the maximum speed of processing lines.

At the same time, OSHA has published documents recommending that employers reduce line speeds and production rates to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders, which are prevalent in the meatpacking industry. Prior to the NSIS ruling, the maximum line speed set by the USDA was 1,106 hog heads per hour.

Despite advances in safety, reductions in regulation are also occurring, increasing the risk that many workers face when trying to earn a living. If you suffered harm due to the nature of your work, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Gross & Kenny, LLP. Our competent and caring attorneys will evaluate your claim. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 267-589-0090 today. We proudly assist residents of Pennsylvania from our office in Philadelphia.