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Meatpacking plant acts to curb injuries.

Cumulative trauma injuries, which have become of increasing concern in a number of industries, were addressed in a program adopted by IBP Inc. and the Food and Commercial Workers for the company's flagship meatpacking plant in Dakota City, NE. A company official explained that other IBP plants were initially excluded so that the program could be tried in "a controlled environment, not helterskelter." Some results might be seen in 6 months or so; other results might take 2 years.

Cumulative trauma injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, for example) usually result from repetitive motions, such as those performed by workers on slaughtering lines.

The agreement calls for:

* training certain workers as "ergonomics monitors" to identify injury-inducing jobs and recommend solutions (disputes, if any, between union and management regarding the solutions will be resolved by a joint committee);

* training new employees in avoiding stressful work methods;

* developing new work-station layouts to ease physical strain on employees; and

* initiating a medical program to treat and rehabilitate injured employees.

The 3-year agreement came less than 2 years after the Food and Commercial Workers began a campaign to publicize alleged unsafe working conditions at the plant. Later, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration intensified enforcement activity in the meatpacking industry, culminating in a 1987 proposal to fine IBP $5.7 million for alleged safety and recordkeeping violations. In return for the company's adopting the new safety program, OSHA reduced the fine to $975,000.
COPYRIGHT 1989 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Previous Article:Meatpacking settlements.
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