Over 15,000 employees in the US poultry-processing industry were injured at work or were reported to have taken sick leave in 2014, the latest year for which data is available, according to statistics from the National Chicken Council.
That represents 4.3 cases per 100 full-time staff, down from 4.5 per 100 a year earlier.
The figures reflect long term gains in health and safety across the industry. Rates of illness and injury in poultry processing have dropped by 81% since 1994.
Observers believe the headline rate of improvement could be even higher, since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not hold any earlier data.
122 chicken sites awarded
News of the rising health and safety levels were reported at the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry in Florida, on 17 August.
The event also saw the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council present safety awards to 122 chicken and turkey business sites, including some owned by Tyson Foods, Cargill, Pilgrim’s Pride and Keystone Foods.
The awards went to a wide range of processing plants, feed mills, meat rendering sites and hatcheries, all of which were recognised for driving forward innovations that led to improved levels of health and safety for employees.
“The poultry industry has made great progress over the last 20 years when it comes to workplace safety,” the council said in a prepared statement.
“Today our industry’s safety record is almost equal to that of the rest of the manufacturing industries. Although great improvements have been made, industry safety professionals are continuously looking for ways to improve.
“No matter their role, safety is a commitment expected of all employees in the industry.”
Awards for the poultry processing industry were based on injury statistics over three years to 2014, as well as the evaluation of written applications.