Bush, OSHA, and chopped body parts at poultry plants
A news segment from Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS this past week exposed how poultry workers in the Carolinas are losing their body parts. And, how Bush’s administration had a hand in it.
The segment was based on what reporters from the Charlotte Observer found after launching a year-long investigation into the safety records at one of the top ten poultry corporations in the nation: House of Raeford Farms. In a 6-part news series called, “The Cruelest Cut,” reporters exposed how House of Raeford Farms had failed to keep records of worker injuries to avoid OSHA inspections and fines. Injuries such as loss of fingers, hands, arms, other serious injuries workers suffered, even deaths.
…The workers, most of them immigrants, had been afraid of talking to anyone about what was happening because they feared deportation. These workers were also suffering from serious muscular injuries such as carpel tunnel, tendinitis, etc. The average poultry worker does about 20,000 cuts of chicken a day! The repetitive movements have left many of them disabled and unable to work with their hands again.
It’s shameful, and this goes on with the Bush Administration’s facilitation. You can read the entire Charlotte Observer expose here, and you can see video from the Moyers’ report and the transcript here. A snippet of a portion on the Bush Administration’s role in allowing falsification of injury reports by business is below the fold. And remember, McSame wants to continue more of the same — coddling the businesses that engage in this kind of worker exploitation because it’s all about the free market. Besides, most of the people working in these plants getting limbs cut off are brown people who can’t vote, so what me worry?
NARRATOR: The logs the reporters were examining are known as 300 logs. They’re required by OSHA and are intended to serve as an accounting of serious jobsite injuries and illnesses. Osha uses 300 logs to help determine how safe plants are, and whether or not they need inspection.
The reporters would use them to help determine whether or not the companies were under-reporting injuries.
But it was something the logs didn’t contain that would help them answer a broader question: why did official statistics make the poultry industry seem so much safer than experts believed it could possibly be?
AMES ALEXANDER: There used to be a column on injury logs where companies were supposed to record all repetitive motion injuries. Uh, and this essentially gave OSHA inspectors a very quick idea of how common repetitive motion problems like carpal tunnel, like tendonitis, were. Uh, and then, uh, under pressure, uh, from the industry, OSHA removed that column.
NARRATOR: It was OSHA under the Bush administration that removed the column in 2002. The result, according to Ames Alexander?
AMES ALEXANDER: OSHA essentially made it easier for companies to hide these sort of repetitive motion injuries. One plant we looked at, uh, in 2001, it had 150 repetitive motion injuries. After they removed the column, they had fewer than 10.
NARRATOR: The Bush administration also repealed a collection of rules put in place at the end of the Clinton administration. The rules, which formed a national ergonomics standard, would have required employers to correct workplace conditions likely to cause repetitive-motion and other injuries.