USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) renewed a cooperative agreement with a formal signing on Aug.1.
The FSIS workforce is viewed as critical to the day-to-day oversight and inspection operations for meat, poultry, and egg products at the 6,600 establishments that FSIS regulates.
The agencies have cooperated for almost 30 years to protect workers, signing their first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for employee safety on Feb. 4, 1994.
A new five-year extension of the MOU for public and private food safety employees, including those under regulation, was signed by FSIS and OSHA.
FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker said, “I know firsthand what the work environment at FSIS-regulated establishments entails. Our agencies share the goal of protecting the safety and health of workers in FSIS-regulated establishments, including both FSIS and establishment employees.”
The extension provides guidance about how both agencies will collaborate on training, information sharing, and workplace hazards.
FSIS and OSHA will coordinate FSIS efforts with workplace hazards and conditions training. The training must be completed within 120 days, with annual refresher training.
At FSIS-regulated establishments, OSHA-provided posters will be made available on how to report injuries to OSHA.
Both agencies will continue sharing health and safety data, which will be used to determine if more training or emphasis is needed at FSIS-regulated establishments for FSIS employees. FSIS and OSHA will also share information about new methods or techniques for monitoring and assessing new procedures or chemicals used in FSIS establishments. Where FSIS requires attestations for health and safety protocols, FSIS will provide those to OSHA. This information sharing will benefit both agencies as they collaborate to monitor new practices and worker safety.
Kiecker and Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Douglas L. Parker signed the agreement for their respective agencies.
A joint implementation group called for in the MOU includes Kiecker, Parker, and from FSIS Office of Management (OM) — Administrative Services Division Director Yolanda Chambers and OM Deputy Assistant Administrator C. Natalie Lui Duncan; — and from DOL Senior Policy Advisor Emily Hargrove and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.
The implementation group will work together to ensure that the agencies make available what FSIS employees need to have a safe workplace in establishments.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)