The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday that it has launched a local emphasis program aimed at reducing the higher injury rates among the more than 90,000 food production workers in Illinois and Ohio.
The program, which launched Oct. 3, began with initial outreach focused on more than 1,400 manufacturing facilities in Illinois and Ohio where year-round and seasonal workers make and process confectionery, animal, fruit and vegetable-based products.
Between 2016 and 2020, OSHA says it investigated several deaths, along with dozens of workers who suffered amputations, fractures and crushed hands or fingers. Investigators often determined that employers often failed to control hazardous energy or allowed workers to operate machinery without adequate supervision.
In 2019, OSHA found that food production workers in Ohio had a nearly 57% higher rate of amputations and a 16% higher rate of fractures compared to the overall rate for private sector manufacturers. In Illinois, these workers experienced a nearly 29% higher rate of amputations and a 14% higher rate of fractures compared to rates for private manufacturing jobs.
Once OSHA completes the three-month outreach effort, the program gives the agency the authority to schedule and inspect selected food industry employers in Illinois and Ohio whose injury rates exceed the state average among all manufacturers. In April 2022, OSHA established a similar program in Wisconsin, according to the announcement.