There are occupational hazards in any line of work, but in the meat industry they can be particularly dangerous, even life-threatening. With meat packing industry injuries making the news on a regular basis, here and overseas, it’s of paramount importance that operator safety is a top priority for food processing equipment manufacturers and food producers.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the latest statistics relating to meat packing industry injuries, as well as best practice tools and procedures for operator safety.
- Meat packing industry injuries [stats]
- Worker safety in the meat and poultry industry
- Grasselli CLO operator safety system
Meat packing industry injuries: the statistics
The meat industry has had a bad track record when it comes to safety. Between the years of 1976 and 1985 in the United States, the meatpacking industry held the third highest injury rate out of all manufacturing industries.
Data from that era on meat packing industry injuries shows that three quarters (76%) of injured workers suffered strains, sprains, lacerations, contusions, or abrasions. Not only that, but the occupations of over half of all injured workers were in meat cutting (49% meat cutter, 2% butcher).
The situation today is still alarming. As recently as 2018, two amputations per week was reported as being the cost of working in a US meat plant.
During the 90s in Australia, meat processing was responsible for nearly three and a half times as many injury/disease cases as poultry and bacon/ham/smallgoods processing combined. Incidence rates stood then at more than 7 times the national rate. Today, it remains a high-risk industry for workers, with saws, blades and heavy lifting required. This is reflected in worker compensation industry rates, which are amongst the highest in the nation.
Reducing risks to worker safety in the meat and poultry industry
So, we know there are significant risks associated with working in the meat industry. Shine Lawyers advises that these risks can be reduced by employers by:
- Having regular maintenance and servicing of equipment, including ensuring that knives are kept sharp (one of the biggest risks is blunt knives);
- Providing the correct protective equipment;
- Keeping the environment free from clutter and hazards;
- Providing ongoing training to employees and keeping licences up to date.
As meat processing equipment suppliers, we would add to this the following recommendations:
- Update your equipment regularly;
- Stay up-to-date with developments in equipment manufacturing that reduce risks to operator safety (more on this below).
The Grasselli CLO operator safety system
One such development in equipment manufacturing comes from Grasselli.
Skinning and derinding machines are fast, high yielding pieces of equipment, requiring skilled operators. Even with proper training, these machines can be dangerous. That’s why Grasselli introduced its patented CLO operator safety system.
Accidents on skinners and derinders can be extremely serious, which is why safety on skinning machines has been Grasselli’s focus for over 35 years. Unparalleled in the market, the CLO Safety System guarantees the complete safety of the machine operator, preventing any injury by providing an impenetrable barrier between the skinning blade and the operator.
What’s more, until 31 July 2020, all Grasselli skinners and derinders will be equipped with the CLO Safety System absolutely free.
FPE is a proud supplier of Grasselli meat slicing, portioning and skinning machines because they’re the absolute best when it comes to safety. And when you order with FPE, you get parts supply, equipment training and maintenance as standard. So we can work together to reduce the risk of meat packing industry injuries in your business.
Contact FPE today to learn more about best practices for operator safety in the meat industry; plus meat slicing, dicing and other food processing equipment solutions for your plant. You can also check out the rest of our Resources section for Brian Carey’s reflections on the meat industry, the story behind FPE’s 2020 rebrand and much more!