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New figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses among employees in the poultry sector has hit an all-time low.

In the poultry slaughtering and processing industry combined, there were 4.9 cases of injury and illness per 100 full-time workers in 2012. In the previous year the rate was 5.8 per 100, which means there was a significant decline of 16 percent in 12 months, the figures reveal.

Another sign that the poultry sector is improving in terms of safety is the fact that for all animal slaughter and processing industries, the average rate of injury and illness came in at 6.3 last year. The poultry industry score was also better than the average for the entire food manufacturing sector, where illness and injury rates were 5.6 per 100 full-time workers, according to BLS's 2012 Injury and Illness Report.

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Commenting on the news, National Chicken Council President Mike Brown said that the falling incidence rates of illness and injury in the sector were a direct result of the efforts and commitment to safety on the part of everyone involved, including employees and their managers. The industry remains focused on further reducing incidence rates over the years to come, he added.

Compared to figures from 1994, the oldest data available, incidence rates have dropped by more than four times, down from 22.7 per 100 workers.