The U.S. meat and poultry industry employs more than 500,000 workers, and keeping those workers safe is one of the top industry priorities, according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).
For the last 25 years, worker safety has been a non-competitive issue, meaning companies openly share best practices to help improve safety for all. During this period, the meat industry partnered with the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create the first industry specific voluntary ergonomic guidelines, and numerous other new safety programs have been implemented as standard practices. Data show these have worked, says NAMI, with the industry reporting all-time lows for worker injury and illness rates in statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Still, many questions persist about worker safety, so NAMI developed a new “Glass Walls” video to take viewers inside plants to see many of these safety precautions in action. The video features Tom Young, Smithfield Foods’ senior director of corporate safety and chairman of the Meat Institute Worker Safety Committee, discussing the various procedures and equipment companies use to keep workers safe.
“Our employees are the backbone of the meat and poultry industry and the reason why we’re able to bring delicious and nutritious products to consumers’ plates every day,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “We’re proud of our worker safety progress and want to show the variety of ways companies keep people safe.”
The video highlights steps taken to reduce the likelihood of injuries from accidents as well as longer term cumulative trauma from repetitive motions. It shows the equipment and procedures in place and details what happens on the occasions when injuries do occur.
The worker safety video is the 12th in the Glass Walls video series. Other videos include tours of beef, pork, lamb and turkey plants featuring animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, PhD. Videos also cover how ground beef, bacon and hot dogs are made as well as food safety interventions and how plants are cleaned daily. To date, the videos have been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube alone.