Meat, Poultry, Egg Inspectors Getting PPE Donning, Doffing Time

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is taking comments until Sept. 8 on the proposed addition, which is based on the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez and Office of Personnel Management guidance.

A rule proposed Monday by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service would include time inspectors spend donning and removing required protective gear and then walking to the assigned work area to the definition of the eight-hour work day in current meat, poultry products, and egg products inspection regulations. FSIS said the change will bring the regs in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21 (2005) and policy guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.

Comments are due by Sept. 8 and may be submitted via www.regulations.gov (using docket number FSIS-2010-0014).

The Alvarez decision confirmed that time spent walking between the area where employees don their gear and the production area and time spent walking from the production area back to the area where employees remove their gear is compensable because donning and doffing of required gear are principal activities marking the beginning and end of a continuous workday.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act, Poultry Products Inspection Act, and Egg Products Inspection Act require inspection of products from these plants; FSIS pays for mandatory inspections during non-overtime and non-holiday hours of operation, but plants pay for inspections on holidays or on an overtime basis. FSIS said its settlement in March 2010 with the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, American Federation of Government Employees, brought about this proposed rule. The council had filed a nationwide grievance under the 2008 Labor Management Agreement seeking compensation for donning and doffing activities nationwide for all inspection personnel, and FSIS settled because of the court ruling and the OPM interpretation based on it.

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