May 1, 2018 by Katie Tracy

Workers at Risk from USDA's Proposed Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) proposed a rule on Feb. 1 to alter inspection procedures for hog slaughter plants by revoking the existing cap on maximum line speeds and transferring key inspection tasks from USDA inspectors to private plant workers. These changes to current practices raise numerous concerns for worker health and safety, all of which the agency fails to address in the proposal. 

Because of these concerns, Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) Member Scholars Martha McCluskey, Tom McGarity, Sid Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, and I sent comments to the agency on April 30, urging it to go back to the drawing board and account for the considerable worker health and safety risks its proposal creates before moving forward.  

Meatpacking workers endure some of the most dangerous working conditions in the nation. Workers are exposed to cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions. Because these jobs require thousands of forceful repetitive motions per shift, musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel and shoulder injuries are rampant across the industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meatpacking workers experience injuries at a rate of 4.3 injuries per 100 workers, compared to the national …

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