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Sprain injuries in meat and seafood processing

High incidence of strain and sprain injuries in meat and seafood processing sectors

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a leading cause of injury and lost time in the meat and seafood processing industries – in fact, MSD incidence is twice as high in the meat industry as for the next highest industry sector (from a list of OSH and ACC priority industries). More than $4 million was paid out by ACC in 2002/03 for MSD claims (also referred to as strains and sprains) in the meat and seafood processing industries.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) in conjunction with ACC and the Department of Labour has granted funding through the Joint Research Portfolio (JRP) to a team of researchers to address the issue of musculoskeletal disorders in the meat and seafood processing industries. The research, lead by the Centre for Human Factors and Ergonomics (COHFE) in Rotorua, will start by identifying key tasks leading to strain/sprain injuries in meat and seafood processing, through consideration of injury data, review of literature and surveying key plant staff in processing plants. Key risk factors and key protective factors for MSD will then be identified and analysed through site visits and detailed task analyses. From this information, the funders and industry will have a much better idea of what specific things to work on to reduce the burden from injuries.

The process will involve considerable communication with industry personnel through collaboration with the Meat Industry Forum and the Seafood Industry Council. From these analyses and communications, and in partnership with industry, intervention strategies aimed at reducing MSD risk will be developed along with identifying potential barriers to their implementation.

The team reflects a further collaboration between COHFE and Massey University, as they are nearing completion of a two year JRP funded project addressing slips, trips and falls in dairy farming and residential construction. The team is made up of researchers from these two organisations, as well as a researcher from the Sports and Exercise Department of the University of Auckland. Between them, team members have experience in musculoskeletal disorders research, ergonomics research and practice, biomechanics and prior research and consultancy in meat and seafood industries.

The $450,000 research will be conducted over two years.


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