The poultry industry's injury and illness rates, they conclude, are in line with many other manufacturing industries.
But, a major sticking point for the SPLC wasn't only an injury count, it is the forthcoming decision by the USDA to implement new poultry inspection regulations, which could speed processing lines at plants. Under the new rules, the USDA could allow poultry processors to boost processing speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute.
Additionally, SLPC says the new regulation would increase injuries.
"The hard-working people who produce our food should be protected from dangerous conditions that lead to avoidable injuries, and they should not be expected to double as food safety inspectors," said SPLC staff attorney Tom Fritzsche, author of the report. "The current system may be profitable for the poultry companies, but it relies on systematic exploitation of workers. Now, regulators are about to make conditions even more hazardous."
NCC and US Poultry say the assertion that speeding processing will cause more injuries is without evidence. They point out that higher processing speeds have been studied through a pilot program since 1999 in 20 chicken plants.
Poultry groups say the injury rates and days away rates in pilot establishments were at or below the industry average for 2009 and 2010.
"While the past 25 years has seen a dramatic decrease in the numbers and rates injury and illnesses occurring in the industry, the poultry industry will continue to seek new and innovative ways to protect our workforce," the NCC-US Poultry paper noted.
Review the NCC-US Poultry paper and the SLPC paper.