US to study effect of increased poultry line speeds on worker safety

The study will evaluate line speeds of up to 175 birds per minute
calendar icon 5 August 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

On 31 January 2022, the US District Court of the District of Columbia granted USDA’s motion for remand in a case challenging the issuance of line speed waivers to certain establishments participating in the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). The remand allows USDA to reconsider the poultry line speed waivers in light of the time-limited trials it implemented for swine establishments participating in the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System.

Since the issuance of the order, USDA has explored various approaches to determine how it can best assess the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety. As part of the process, USDA engaged in discussions with relevant stakeholders, including worker safety advocates and industry. Based on these discussions and their experience with the time-limited trials, FSIS is modifying the NPIS line speed waiver process to facilitate a study on the effects of increased line speeds on worker safety, which will inform future rulemaking.

The study will include evaluation of monthly worker safety data submitted by all establishments that receive a modified waiver to continue to operate at up to 175 birds per minute (bpm), as well as on-site visits to a subset of establishments by the contracted worker safety experts.

Poultry establishments with existing line speed waivers received a letter with information about the study and how to apply for the modified waiver. Establishments with a current line speed waiver must agree to participate in the study and provide worker safety data in order to receive a modified waiver. Establishments have until 1 September 2022, to let FSIS know whether they consent to participate in the study, and until 30 September 2022 to submit the initial requested worker safety information.

The modified poultry line speed waivers will continue at least through the end of the study.

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