Case Study

GTRI Receives OSHA Grant to Develop Safety Training Program for Third-Shift Poultry Processing Workers

Published: December 21, 2007

Georgia Tech was recently awarded a Susan Harwood Grant by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a comprehensive safety training program for third-shift sanitation and maintenance workers in the poultry processing industry.

“The goal of the training program is the continued reduction of work-place injuries and the prevention of fatalities associated with third-shift maintenance and sanitation operations in the poultry processing industry,” says James Howry, research associate and project director. “Working with industry, we plan to develop a comprehensive training program with emphasis on the high-hazard worker exposures related to equipment and machine lockout/tagout and entry into permit-required confined spaces.”

While the main focus of training will be on confined space and energy control, Howry says topics will also address hazards associated with walking and working surfaces, personal protective equipment, the use of high pressure and temperature water systems, and hazard communication. 

The Hardwood grant, totaling $118,075, will be used to develop new training materials, including course notebooks, CD-ROMs, and videos; conduct train-the-trainer courses in several different regions of the country; and assess worker training sessions at several plant locations. Approximately 90 individuals from all areas of the poultry processing industry will be targeted to participate in six 2-day train-the-trainer courses. These individuals will receive trainer manuals and presentations on CD-ROMs. Tentative locations for the train-the-trainer courses are Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Minnesota.

The worker-based training will be conducted by industry or contractor trainers using training modules and materials developed by the program and distributed at the train-the-trainer courses. Program team members will audit several of the training offerings to ensure effective transfer. The worker-based training materials will be designed for individuals fluent in both English and Spanish languages in recognition of the large percentage of Hispanic workers in the poultry industry.

Howry says it is anticipated that by the program’s end an estimated 9,000 third-shift sanitation and maintenance workers will have received training.

A coordinating committee was recently assembled by the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation to advise the Georgia Tech team on course content needs.

“The primary method of achieving success will be the development and transfer of tailored materials to help train workers to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control hazards associated with third-shift sanitation and maintenance functions,” says Howry.

This year, OSHA awarded more than $10.1 million in grants to 55 nonprofit organizations for safety and health training and educational programs targeted for employees in high-hazard industries, those with limited English proficiency, those who are hard-to-reach, and those in industries with high fatality rates, as well as small business employees.

The training grants are named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, a former director of the Office of Risk Assessment in OSHA’s Health Standards Directorate, who died in 1996. During her 17-year tenure with the agency, Harwood helped develop OSHA standards to protect employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.

Key Elements of the Train-the-Trainer Course

  • Introduction to OSHA
  • Overview of Workplace Hazards
  • Task Analysis
  • Machinery and Machine Safeguarding
  • Lockout/Tagout (LO/TO)
  • LO/TO Exercise
  • Hazard Communication
  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention
  • Electrical Safety
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS)
  • PRCS Exercise
  • High Pressure and a Spray Operation
  • Ergonomic Considerations
  • Evaluation of Safety and Health Programs (S&H)
  • S&H Programs Exercise

Key Elements of the Worker-Based Training Course

  • Energy Control (Lockout/Tagout)
  • Machine Guarding
  • Electrical Safety
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Ergonomic Considerations
  • Confined Space Procedures
  • How to Recognize Hazards