Food Musculoskeletal disorders

Poultry workers at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, other MSDs: report

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Cincinnati – More than half of workers evaluated at a poultry plant in Maryland experienced musculoskeletal disorder symptoms in a hand or wrist, according to a recent NIOSH evaluation conducted at the employer’s request.

Researchers found hand repetition and force were above the recommended limit in 59 percent of reviewed jobs, putting workers at greater risk for MSDs, NIOSH stated in an April 6 blog post.

Additionally, 76 percent of tested workers had “abnormal” results in a nerve conduction test, and 34 percent showed signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. NIOSH advises using automation or engineering controls, or redesigning jobs to help prevent MSDs.

Recommendations for employers include:

  • Use OSHA guidelines for poultry processing and recommendations from industry groups.
  • Set a rotation schedule to lower stress to certain muscles and tendons.
  • Schedule more breaks.

Recommendations for workers:

  • Immediately report symptoms and injuries.
  • Use sharp knives.
  • Adjust standing platforms to the appropriate height for the job.