05/30/08 — Proposal could alter chicken plant rules

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Proposal could alter chicken plant rules

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 30, 2008 1:47 PM

A bill that would increase inspections of working conditions in poultry plants has been introduced in the state Senate.

The measure, SB 2104, is being sponsored by Sen. Daniel Clodfelter of Mecklenburg County.

It calls for the state health director to inspect plants that employ 500 workers or more.

There are two large poultry processing plants in Wayne and Duplin counties -- Case Farms on Pecan Road south of Goldsboro that processes chickens and Butterball in northern Duplin County that processes turkeys.

"The purpose of the inspection shall be to review and investigate the medical evaluation, treatment, referral, record-keeping, reporting and possible causes of injuries, illnesses, or deaths within the poultry processing plant," the bill states.

It calls for the state Health Director to provide a written report of his findings to the director of the Occupational Safety and Health Division and for the director to take "appropriate action to correct any deficiencies or violations."

The bill was introduced this week and referred to the Agriculture/Environment and Natural Resources committee.

The bill calls for the measure to become effective July 1.

It gives the state Health Director the power to inspect any part of the plant and the ability to question any employee privately. It also gives him or her the right to see all records and the right to pursue an administrative search warrant if access to records is denied.

Plants would be required to maintain a written log of all injuries and health concerns, including complaints of pain, "whether or not the complaints reach any other threshold. ,..."

In addition, effective Sept. 1, plants would be required to hire at least one licensed medical professional to evaluate, treat or refer an injured or sick worker to a doctor.

The state Health Director also would be required to make an annual report to the governor, the leaders of both legislative chambers and the state Commissioner of Labor.