Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers. In response to this, OSHA has launched a new Regional Emphasis Program in eight states to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors affecting industry workers.

The targeted Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas – include some of the nation's largest poultry producers.

A report issued last week by the anti-poverty organization Oxfam America alleged that poultry workers often face employer retaliation for reporting injuries and illnesses or voicing concerns about safety.

OSHA's emphasis program began Oct. 26 with a three-month period of education and outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations and workers. The agency will then begin its targeted enforcement phase, including on-site inspections and a review of poultry processing production operations, working conditions, recordkeeping, chemical handling and safety and health programs to ensure compliance. The emphasis program ends Oct. 25, 2016, unless extended.