As a city, St. Joseph, Missouri relies on food processing plants. Many of the people who live in St. Joseph work at these plants. Many others work in businesses that make a significant portion of their money from those plants workers. When conditions affect the food processing plants, they trickle down into the surrounding community.
A new rule proposal can have such an impact on St. Joseph’s pork processing plants. The rule, proposed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), would put pork eaters at serious risk, and would also increase the number of workers’ compensation claims by making their workplace less safe.
New FSIS Rule Would Put All Pork Eaters at Risk
The FSIS – an agency of the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – proposed a rule change on January 19, 2018. Instead of having USDA inspectors visit pork processing plants to conduct food safety inspections, the proposed rule would put the responsibility onto the plants, themselves.
The proposal claims to allow pork processing plants “develop sampling plans that are more tailored to their specific operations, and thus be more effective in monitoring their specific process control.” However, the expected result will be that the plant’s new plan would include far fewer samples for inspection. This would almost certainly lead to a rise in tainted pork making its way into grocery stores, where they can make people sick.
New Rule Would Also Increase Workers’ Compensation Claims
However, the new FSIS rule goes further.
To “compensate” pork processing plants for having to do their own food safety inspections, the proposed rule would allow them to set their own line speeds. The stated goal of removing the caps for pork processing line speeds is to offset the costs of the plants conducting their own food safety inspections. The reality, though, is that it will shift those costs onto workers by making their workplace even less safe. This is not a small issue: Workers in the animal slaughtering industry already have the highest rate of occupational illnesses. Additionally, many of the injuries that pork processing plant workers suffer are because of high line speeds.
The number of these illnesses and injuries is almost certain to jump higher if this FSIS rule is passed.
Future Steps for the Rule’s Passage
With the proposed rule's publication in the Federal Register on February 1, the 60-day window for public comments opened. If you feel strongly about the rule's impact on workplace safety, the working conditions in St. Joseph food processing plants, or food safety, you can comment on the proposed rule here.
The period for public comment ends on 10:59pm, Central Time, on May 2, 2018.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Rule changes like this one can drastically change the field of workers’ compensation law. That is why the personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office pay close attention to developments in Washington, D.C., and here in Missouri. Preventing dangerous regulatory changes like these can help keep thousands of workers in St. Joseph safe.
If you have been hurt while on the job, contact the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph online or call them at (816) 875-9373.