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Safety standards

Safety standards in the meatpacking industry commands attention these days. Machines and assembly (or de-assembly I suppose) lines move faster and faster, posing ever greater risk to life, limb, or digit. With greater number of immigrant and undocumented workers laboring in the industry, concerns about safety loom larger. The below article explains the conclusions and recommendations of the Human Rights Watch with regard to work safety, particular where it concerns immigrant workers. Take a look at the issues. do you agree with these recommendations? Please provide bullet point response. Not more than 250 words.

Abstract

In Nebraska, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is teaming up with Omaha-based Mexican Consul Jose Cuevas on a proposal to educate immigrants on workplace safety, Cuevas said.
OSHA in 2004 pledged to help provide training and oversight to meatpacking cleaning companies. The arrangement was prompted by a World-Herald investigation on the contract cleaning industry's history of severe injuries and OSHA violations.

Recommendations Human Rights Watch recommendations for protecting workers in the meat and poultry industry include: New federal and state laws to reduce production line speeds. Stronger state regulations to halt underreporting of injuries. Stronger worker compensation laws and enforcement of anti-retaliation laws. U.S. labor law compliance with international standards on workers' freedom of association. New laws ensuring workers' safety regardless of their immigration status.

Full Text (646 words)

(Copyright 2005 Omaha World-Herald Company)

After examining three meatpacking plants, including one in Nebraska, the group Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the United States is failing to protect that labor force.

A meat industry official dismissed the group as "way off mark" in its 175-page report titled "Blood, Sweat and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants."

The American Meat Institute's J. Patrick Boyle said he would need that many pages to correct the "falsehoods and baseless claims."

The Human Rights Watch report contends that workplace risks and exploitation, especially of immigrants, are not occasional employer lapses.

The authors described what they called "systematic human rights violations embedded" in the fast-paced, high-volume meat and poultry industries.

Most of the report's concerns have been highlighted by news reports and area worker rights groups. But immigrant advocates said the weight behind Human Rights Watch provides new ammunition.

"It ups the ante because it focuses on human rights obligations in international treaties," said Lourdes Gouveia, an Omaha sociologist whose immigration research was cited in the report.

Human Rights Watch is a privately funded group whose goal is to hold governments accountable if they violate the rights of their people. Its researchers said they interviewed meatpacking workers and examined injury reports, government and academic studies, newspaper reports and legal proceedings.

They cited unsafe working conditions, denial of workers' compensation to those injured on the job, intimidation of those seeking to organize unions and exploitation of immigration status to ward off complaints.

Two of three corporations used as case studies responded to the researchers: Tyson Foods, on its Arkansas poultry plant, and Smithfield Foods on a North Carolina pork plant. Phone calls from The WorldHerald to the third corporation, Omaha-based Nebraska Beef, were not returned.

All three firms have operations in Nebraska.

The American Meat Institute disputed many aspects of the report.

Boyle, the institute's president, said the meat industry has seen a consistent decline in injury rates and illnesses. He said that the injury rate is "lower than ever" and that meatpacking plants are four times above the national average in union membership.

He said the report's author implied having firsthand knowledge of safety issues in plants that he never visited.

A group of 15 Nebraska labor unions and minority advocacy agencies endorsed the report. They said progress has been made in the industry and in public policy, but much remains to be done.

Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said Tyson was "disappointed by the report's misleading conclusions but not surprised, given the author's extensive ties to organized labor."

Mickelson pointed to the company's new Team Members' Bill of Rights, modeled after Nebraska state law, which is to be put in plants across the country.

He said Tyson provides training, interpreters and on-site English classes. It invests millions of dollars, he said, in workplace safety and ergonomics and is developing robotic equipment for certain jobs.

Human Rights Watch contended that any single company seeking to rectify conditions would incur additional costs and be undercut by competitors. Thus, it said, state and federal governments have equal or greater responsibility to protect workers' rights.

In Nebraska, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is teaming up with Omaha-based Mexican Consul Jose Cuevas on a proposal to educate immigrants on workplace safety, Cuevas said.

OSHA in 2004 pledged to help provide training and oversight to meatpacking cleaning companies. The arrangement was prompted by a World-Herald investigation on the contract cleaning industry's history of severe injuries and OSHA violations.

Recommendations Human Rights Watch recommendations for protecting workers in the meat and poultry industry include: New federal and state laws to reduce production line speeds. Stronger state regulations to halt underreporting of injuries. Stronger worker compensation laws and enforcement of anti-retaliation laws. U.S. labor law compliance with international standards on workers' freedom of association. New laws ensuring workers' safety regardless of their immigration status.

Credit: WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Please provide bullet point response. Not more than 250 words.

Solution Preview

STEP 1
The problems of the workers are:
1. There are injuries related to use of knives, hooks and circular saws.
2. There are cumulative trauma disorders; the worst sufferers are boning workers;
3. The workers suffer from tenditis, tenosynovitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome which affect the soft tissues and nerves of the upper extremity.
4. There is a high percentage of reported pain, injury, loss of work and disability.
5. High incidence of musculoskeletal disorders and vibration related injury;
6. Repeated trauma was 75 times as much as industry as a whole.
7. The use of hand held vibrating knives ...

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