Wisconsin food processing plants will be seeing increased scrutiny from OSHA, which is introducing a local emphasis program (LEP) focused on machine hazards in these facilities.
Workers in Wisconsin food production plants experience an injury rate that’s almost 24% higher than other production facilities in the state.
During a six-year period between 2014 and 2020, OSHA investigated multiple fatalities, dozens of amputations, fractures, and crushed hands or fingers in Wisconsin food processing facilities.
Investigators found employers failed to control hazardous energy or allowed workers to operate machines without adequate guarding.
Reduce exposure, provide training
The LEP will focus on making sure employers are taking steps to identify, reduce and eliminate exposure to machine hazards during manufacturing and while performing off-shift sanitation, service and maintenance activities.
Food processing plants tend to be staffed in part by seasonal and temporary workers and OSHA points out that employers should plan their training and orientation programs to emphasize proper safety precautions and ensure procedures are explained in a language workers can understand, regardless of whether they’re full time, temporary or seasonal.
3-month outreach phase ongoing
The initial, outreach phase of the LEP began April 19 and will last for the next three months. During this phase, OSHA representatives will reach out to employers, professional associations and other stakeholders and make presentations regarding the LEP to industry organizations.
Employers will be encouraged to use OSHA’s free consultation services to help implement machine safety strategies and ensure compliance with agency standards.
Once the outreach phase ends, OSHA will be scheduling and inspecting select food industry employers with injury rates higher than the national average.