US poultry industry suggests regulator operates above the law

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

US poultry organisations "concerned" about inspections at processing facilites
US poultry organisations "concerned" about inspections at processing facilites

Related tags Poultry industry Occupational safety and health Us poultry & egg association Poultry

A collection of US poultry boards has said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to carry out chicken factory inspections that do not comply with the US Constitution. 

This week, the National Chicken Council (NCC) said it was “concerned”​ by the workplace agency’s attempts to conduct “wall-to-wall inspections of poultry processing facilities”​ every time OSHA gets a complaint.

OSHA was established by former US president Richard Nixon in the 1970s to assure a safe working environment for Americans. Just like any other industry, the poultry sector is required by law to be inspected by OSHA. The NCC, along with the US Poultry & Egg Association and the National Turkey Federation have unanimously said they have no qualms with this and are “committed to the safety, health and wellbeing of our workforce”​.

What the poultry industry is concerned about, however, is the fact that there are “legal limits”​ to OSHA’s inspection powers – and these inspections should be “conducted within the scope of the law”​, they claim.

In a letter sent to OSHA last month, the US Poultry and Egg Association said OSHA’s plan to expand “unprogrammed”​ poultry inspection went against the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

The letter was written on 4 March 2016 and was in response to OSHA claiming it planned to use any accident, complaint or referral at any poultry processing facility as a pretext for conducting inspections.
OSHA claims it has a legal authority to expand poultry processing site inspections because factory conditions make poultry processing a “high hazard industry”​.
The poultry industry disagrees with this and said it had made “tremendous progress”​ in cutting worker injury by 81% in the last 20 years. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014 Injury and Illness Report also suggested worker injury was falling in even more, the NCC claimed in a press statement.

“The poultry industry is committed to health and safety, but it also takes the law seriously,”​ the NCC statement also claimed.  

“We believe that OSHA can fulfil its mission within the bounds set by the Constitution, and we will continue to defend the industry against practices that are not consistent with those guarantees.”

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