Food and tobacco processing workers held about 223,000 jobs in 2014 and mostly worked in food manufacturing facilities.
The industries that employed the most food and tobacco processing workers in 2014 were as follows:
Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing
Animal slaughtering and processing
Other food manufacturing
Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing
Dairy product manufacturing
Food manufacturing facilities are typically large, open floor areas with loud machinery, requiring workers to wear ear protection to guard against noise. Workers are frequently exposed to high temperatures when working around cooking machinery. Some work in cold environments for long periods with goods that need to be refrigerated or frozen.
Depending on the type of food or tobacco being processed, workers may be required to wear masks, hair nets, or gloves to protect the product from possible contamination.
Workers usually stand for the majority of their shifts while tending machines or observing the production process. Loading, unloading, or cleaning equipment may require lifting, bending, and reaching.
Workers on assembly lines must be able to keep up with the line speed while maintaining product quality.
Injuries and Illnesses
Working around hot liquids or machinery that cuts or presses can be dangerous. The most common hazards are slips, falls, or cuts. To reduce the risks of injuries, workers are required to wear protective clothing and nonslip shoes.
Most food and tobacco processing workers are employed full time. Because of varying production schedules, working early morning, evening, or night shifts is common in many manufacturing facilities.
Some food processing facilities are seasonal and open only a few months a year. During this period, facilities may operate 24 hours a day and require workers to work one of the various shifts.