Meat industry injury and illness incidence rates now stand at the lowest level ever recorded, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering 2007 annual safety results. Overall, the meat industry’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable rates have improved by 72 percent since the industry adopted ergonomics guidelines in 1990 and made worker safety a non-competitive issue.

The animal slaughter and processing sector’s total industry recordable rate — cases per 100 full-time workers — dropped 7.7 percent in 2007, from 9.1 to 8.4. Animal slaughter and processing’s total industry DART rate, which includes cases of a more serious nature, declined as well, to 5.5 in 2007 from 6.2 in 2006, a reduction of 11.3 percent.

The red meat slaughter sector injury and illness rates declined by 3.2 percent to 12.1 in 2007 from 12.5 per in 2006. Poultry slaughter and processing also showed improvement, at 6.1 per 100 full time workers in 2007, down 7.6 percent from a rate of 6.6 in 2006. Red meat processing injury and illness rates declined 16.3 percent to 8.2 per 100 full time workers in 2007, from 9.8 for 2006.

“These encouraging trends confirm that the meat industry’s decision to make worker safety a non-competitive issue and work cooperatively to enhance workplace safety has created measurable and meaningful workplace safety improvements,” said J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute.