Taking a different approach to employee safety and food safety training for poultry workers
Use innovative tools to train
The protein market is changing rapidly and constantly looks to satisfy consumer demand for specific products. Many consumers not only look for value, but how the product is made and where it comes from. Aspects such as how the animal was raised and the work conditions of employees are some of the factors that buyers consider when buying products. The poultry industry understands these concerns and addresses them daily, whether by discovering ways to reduce antibiotic use, improve the welfare of animals or improve the safety of our products and so on. On the other hand, there is also a need to demonstrate to employees they are in an industry that it is committed to them and they are also contributing to something meaningful — that you can be sure that you are supporting your family and your community.
The industry has always strived to provide safe and high-quality protein to its customers while protecting the interests of its employees. It has made strides improving workplace conditions in the last few decades. It is also constantly supporting research and education to continue these and recruiting the best individuals that will attain its goals. The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) provides necessary tools to help our members maintain the pace in continuous improvements. One of USPOULTRY’s goals is to gather knowledge and provide resources to perform tasks at specific work stations at a processing plant, for example. There are many responsibilities around a work station that go beyond just putting a product in a box and it is important for employees to understand this. A line worker must produce a final product in a way that is safe for them to accomplish the task and that is safe to consume afterwards. Traditionally, a new hire receives his or her orientation in a classroom where updates on company policies, food safety, occupational safety and ergonomics are offered. All these topics are discussed in separate segments, and many times it is difficult to demonstrate how all these concepts go hand in hand so the employee is successful.
An example on how to demonstrate these concepts is USPOULTRY’s Knife Safety and Cutting Techniques for the Poultry Debone Line Training video. This is a training video demonstrating proper breast deboning cutting techniques. The video features a holistic approach to breast deboning that includes employee protection and ergonomics, prevention of cross-contamination of meat, foreign material control and proper knife handling and care. The video is intended for use in new-hire and refresher training in poultry processing plants, and it goes beyond the classroom setting where traditionally new hires get their orientation on food safety and employee safety as separate topics. The video takes the approach of a person performing the task and creates awareness of how all the concepts from their orientation comes together to go beyond the task at hand.
USPOULTRY partnered with the University of Arkansas Global Campus and industry members to develop a high-quality demonstration of properly deboning front halves and performing this task in a way that protects workers and consumers alike. It is an on-demand training tool suitable for use in different formats including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This training, among others, is downloadable from www.USPOULTRY.org and is available to our members. NP