Audit: Some Meat Inspectors Work 75-80 Hours Per Week
One inspector averaged 13 hours a day, 365 days a year.
11:01 AM, Aug 26, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
If overworked employees are more likely to commit errors, then the consumers who ended up with the meat inspected by one particular Department of Agriculture (USDA) food safety inspector may have cause for concern. A recent audit found one Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employee averaged almost thirteen hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in fiscal year 2012. While this was the most extreme case, the incidence of food safety employees working extraordinary hours is by no means rare. Over 400 of the 10,000 inspectors averaged in excess of 60 hours per week, including 14 averaging more than 75 hours, and another three who averaged over 80 hours per week.
When food safety officials were presented with the audit's finding by the inspector general (OIG) of the USDA, they admitted ignorance of the excessive overtime hours, but downplayed the significance:
The concerns of the OIG about the effects of such excessive overtime are shared by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The OIG cited OSHA regulations in the audit:
The OIG audit also uncovered some problems with FSIS's record keeping and billing for overtime hours:
The OIG made seven recommendations to the FSIS regarding overtime hours, and the FSIS and the OIG came up with mutually agreeable responses for each of the concerns raised by the audit.
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