OSHA Cites Poultry Processor for Ergonomic Hazards

OSHA Cites Poultry Processor for Ergonomic Hazards

Workers cutting chicken fat, bone and cartilage eight hours a day at a Delaware poultry plant were suffering musculoskeletal injuries caused by their jobs, an OSHA inspection found. Keep reading to learn what OSHA cited the employer for and how to prevent and fix similar hazards at your worksite.

Following the inspection, OSHA cited the company for exposing employees on the debone line to musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazards. The agency determined that workers performed prolonged, repetitive and forceful tasks without controls in place to prevent injuries.

OSHA does not have a specific standard regulating exposure to ergonomic hazards, but the agency can cite and fine employers under the General Duty Clause, which requires employers to provide employment and a place of employment free from recognized serious hazards. In this case, OSHA determined that employees were exposed to ergonomic risk factors that included excessive force and exertion, repetitive motion, and awkward postures. These exposures were likely to result in MSDs including tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger thumb, and shoulder pain.

“Musculoskeletal injuries caused by these hazards in poultry plants are too common,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, PhD. “These types of injuries can be prevented by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing.”

In addition to the serious citation for the company’s failure to address the musculoskeletal disorder hazards, OSHA issued serious citations for failing to designate emergency exits properly and to ensure employees received training related to machinery that could unexpectedly start up during service and maintenance. OSHA cited the company for a total of nine violations. Proposed penalties total $38,000.

“The combination of musculoskeletal disorder hazards, lack of proper medical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and underreporting of injuries at this plant must be addressed by the company,” said Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington office. “Workers should not have to work in pain, especially when these injuries are preventable.”

Recommended solutions

To abate the ergonomic hazards, OSHA recommended that the company develop an ergonomics program and implement a combination of engineering and administrative controls.

Possible effective engineering controls include the following:

  • Installing adjustable height platforms that are easily adjustable and have a foot rail to alleviate the stress of standing and training employees to adjust them properly to create a neutral posture for working.
  • Evaluating work stations to determine the best design to minimize reaching and twisting.
  • Providing scissors and knives with ergonomic handles designed for repetitive tasks.
  • Developing a knife and scissors sharpening program that includes a schedule for replacing knives and scissors, inspection procedures to ensure sharpness, proper sharpening techniques, and procedures for employees to request new tools when necessary.
  • Installing a training line that allows new hires, temporary employees, and employees learning new tasks to be trained on proper positions, height, and techniques without the stress of keeping up with the normal line speed.

OSHA also recommended that the company educate and train employees about basic principles of ergonomics and develop a work rotation schedule to minimize employees being rotated to positions with similar muscle and tool use as their previous position.

Source: safetyblr.com

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