- Just ask Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the National Employment Law Project who used to work with the government agency that oversaw industry practices. On Wednesday, she published a piece in response to the new report. This is how she described the conditions:
In my work at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I witnessed the dangers: poultry workers stand shoulder to shoulder on both sides of long conveyor belts, most using scissors or knives, in cold, damp, loud conditions, making the same forceful movements thousands upon thousands of times a day, as they skin, pull, cut, debone and pack the chickens. The typical plant processes 180,000 birds a day. A typical worker handles 40 birds a minute.
By law, companies are required to grant their employees access to bathrooms. A set of standards, written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1998, makes clear that facilities must be available to employees upon need. In response, the industry has instituted a system, whereby extra workers are available to swap in in the case someone has to leave the line to use the restroom, a system which the government supports so long as "there are sufficient relief workers to assure that employees need not wait an unreasonably long time to use the bathroom."