Research/studies Worker health and wellness Agriculture, forestry and fishing Injury prevention Musculoskeletal disorders

NIOSH: MSDs at poultry facility remain stable after line speed increase

Washington – A new study of a poultry facility in South Carolina has concluded that although musculoskeletal disorder symptoms remained relatively stable after processing line speeds increased, MSD injuries and symptoms at the plant still were higher than the industry average and recommended levels.

NIOSH researchers evaluated MSDs and traumatic injuries among employees at the plant before and after the line speed increased. They found that 39 percent of study participants experienced hand or wrist symptoms before and after the increase, and 57 percent reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom before and after. Nearly one-third of workers – at both times – were performing tasks above the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ threshold limit value for hand activity and force.

Although the line speed increased, most workers still processed about the same number of birds as before, researchers found. NIOSH suggested that employers implement OSHA’s Guidelines for Poultry Processing and recommendations from poultry industry groups to prevent MSDs.

The study comes as several groups actively oppose a proposed Department of Agriculture rule that would increase poultry processing line speeds.