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    R E P O R TISSN 1174 - 1234

    Volume 8 No 5, 2007COHFE copyright 2007

    Industry Interventions for Addressing

    Musculoskeletal Disorders (Strains/Sprains)

    in New Zealand Meat Processing

    May 2007

    D. Tappin, D. Moore, T. Bentley, R. Parker, L. Ashby, A. Vitalis, D. Riley, S. Hide

    Findings from the 2004-2006 project Addressing Work Related Musculoskeletal Disordersin Meat and Seafood Processing.

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    Industry Interventions for Addressing MSD in NZ Meat Processing

    AcknowledgementsWe gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Meat Industry Health and Safety Forumand of plant staff around the country, for making themselves available and providedinformation throughout all stages of the project.

    This research is funded through the joint research portfolio (Health Research Council of New Zealand, Accident Compensation Corporation, Department of Labour) and issupported by New Zealand meat processing companies.

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    Industry Interventions for Addressing MSD in NZ Meat Processing

    Table of Contents

    Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 1Some Information on MSD............................................................................................... 3

    About the Intervention Tables .......................................................................................... 4Intervention Headings ...................................................................................................... 5

    Job Design

    Task Rotation................................................................................................................... 6Rest/Recovery Breaks .....................................................................................................8Work Pace ..................................................................................................................... 10Physical Task Requirements.......................................................................................... 11

    Organisational DesignRecruitment and Retention ............................................................................................ 13

    Work Flow...................................................................................................................... 15Remuneration / Job Grades........................................................................................... 17Job Allocation................................................................................................................. 18

    Attendance..................................................................................................................... 19Staff Participation........................................................................................................... 20Shift Design....................................................................................................................22Health and Safety Management..................................................................................... 23

    Early Reporting and Injury Management........................................................................ 24Maintenance .................................................................................................................. 26

    Physical DesignPlant Design...................................................................................................................27Workspace and Equipment Design................................................................................ 28Knife and Glove Design ................................................................................................. 30

    Thermal Environment..................................................................................................... 31Noise..............................................................................................................................32

    Training DesignTask Training ................................................................................................................. 33Knife Sharpening Training 35

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    Industry Interventions for Addressing MSD in NZ Meat Processing

    IntroductionBetween 2004-2006 COHFE and Massey University conducted a study within the meatand seafood processing industries to find out about interventions that were being used,or could be used in the future, to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD also oftenreferred to as sprain & strain injuries). The study was funded by the Health ResearchCouncil, ACC, and the Department of Labour. This report contains a range of industryinterventions identified during the study that can be used to help address MSD in meatprocessing.

    The specific intentions of this document are to:

    1. Help improve knowledge about MSD across the industry, including raised recognitionof more of the risk factors and implementation barriers than are currently identified.

    2. Make it clear that MSD have many causes and that as many as possible need to beaddressed to prevent MSD. There is no single cause or single solution.

    3. Encourage a broader range of interventions to be implemented, based on thosecurrently being applied or considered in the industry.

    4. Help to plan for systemic change at an industry level for some of the interventions.

    The study had three stages. In the first stage, high risk tasks were identified by theresearchers and the Meat Industry Health and Safety Forum (MIF) based on analysis of

    ACC and plant injury data (2002-2004).

    The second stage of the study involved assessment of these high risk tasks and thework systems in which they operate in 28 processing plants around the country (2005-2006). During these visits, information about existing or proposed interventionsaddressing MSD was collected at each plant. Other intervention ideas were alsocollected from the meat processing literature. Most of the interventions identifiedconcerned wider work system issues, as well as those more immediate ones specific toeach task. Data on key risk factors and barriers to implementation was also collected.

    In the third stage, data and information from the first two stages was summarised andsent to the MIF for feedback on content and intervention priority. Their feedback was

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    Industry Interventions for Addressing MSD in NZ Meat Processing

    Other interventions are ideas that plants involved in the study are planning to implement.Finally, some of the interventions are ideas from the meat processing literature, relatedindustries, or from the research team themselves.

    The full list of interventions were rated (A J) by the researchers for their combined;potential to reduce MSD (based on current understanding of those conditions), and their breadth of industry applicability. The Meat Industry Health and Safety Forumsubsequently also rated the interventions indicating; their likely impact on reducing MSD,and the likelihood of their implementation.

    Accompanying this intervention document is a literature review on MSD in meatprocessing which was conducted as part of the study. This provides more detailedbackground information on risk factors, interventions and implementation barriers asreported by other researchers internationally.

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    Industry Interventions for Addressing MSD in NZ Meat Processing

    Some Information on MSDMSD (or sprains and strains) is a term used to describe a wide range of conditions thataffect muscles, tendons, bones and joints (the musculoskeletal system). These occur when the demands of manual handling are too great, resulting in discomfort, pain, or aninjury2. MSD can either happen suddenly or occur gradually over time. They caninvolve any part of the body but are often related to the body parts involved in the worktasks (i.e. upper limbs, neck and trunk). There are many other terms used to describesome MSD (e.g. RSI, OOS, work related upper limb disorders) as well as specificdiagnoses (e.g. rotator cuff syndrome), however the term MSD is used here for consistency with international literature.

    MSD are very common in meat processing. They account for more than half of both thenumber and cost of ACC compensation claims for the industry each year. In 2005-06the cost of new and ongoing MSD claims for meat processing was over $12 million.Meat processing also has the highest MSD incidence rate when compared with other similar NZ industries.

    Many MSD risk factors were identified during the study, which is a reason in itself whyMSD are so prevalent in meat processing. They can be divided into two groups.Primary factors (or root causes) include such things as seasonality, staff turnover, fixedwork pace and a limited labour pool. While many of these things are difficult to change

    and may not be seen to be directly associated with MSD, they are the underlying driversof MSD risk. Their presence leads to secondary risk factors, or those most oftenidentified with MSD such as repetition, high forces, fast work pace, etc. On top of theserisk factors are the barriers that make implementing changes more difficult (e.g. cost,training, lack of space). Left unchecked, these implementation barrier