Each month we will update this page to highlight newly released final reports and information on new and emerging hazards we are evaluating. Check back often to see what we are up to!
Interim Report: Musculoskeletal Disorders and Traumatic Injuries Among Employees at a Poultry Processing Plant
NIOSH received a request for a Health Hazard Evaluation at a poultry processing facility. Managers asked NIOSH to identify the potential for increases in musculoskeletal and upper extremity trauma due to the planned evisceration line speed increase. The request was required by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service to obtain an evisceration line speed waiver as part of the facility’s participation in the Salmonella Initiative Program.
NIOSH completed a baseline evaluation in advance of the line speed change. NIOSH investigators evaluated risk factors for traumatic injuries and collected related medical and personnel administrative information. NIOSH investigators also assessed 67 job tasks for ergonomic risk factors. Questionnaires were administered to 308 first-shift Fresh Plant employees and all 10 first-shift live hang contract workers. Participants were asked about work and medical history, symptoms, work conditions, and other factors known to be associated with hand/wrist musculoskeletal disorders and traumatic injuries. Nerve conduction tests were done on 284 first-shift Fresh Plant employees who had participated in the questionnaire. This was done to evaluate nerve damage in the hand and wrist. Forty-two percent of participants had evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome on the basis of our case definition. Forty-one percent of participants worked at jobs with high levels of hand activity and force. The risk of carpal tunnel syndrome increased with increasing exposure to the risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders.
A NIOSH Interim Report was mailed to the company and employee representatives with our findings and recommendations. A copy of the interim report can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/pdfs/2012-0125_Interim_Report_Final.pdf.
Evaluation of Dermal Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Fire Fighters
The Health Hazard Evaluation Program carried out a study at a fire service training facility to assess whether airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other aromatic hydrocarbons pass through the skin of fire fighters wearing full protective ensembles. In each of two rounds, fire fighters fought a controlled structure burn once a day for 3 days while wearing new or freshly laundered turnout gear each day and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). We collected air, breath, urine, and wipe samples of the skin throughout the day. Air samples showed that burns released PAHs, and in most burns, the levels exceeded the occupational exposure limit. The biological monitoring showed benzene and some PAHs entered the fire fighters’ bodies; most likely through skin on the neck, which is the least protected area on the fire fighters’ bodies. The levels of PAHs and benzene in fire fighters’ bodies were similar to those in other groups of workers with low levels of workplace exposures to the same chemicals. HHE Program investigators recommended
- Requiring fire fighters to wear full protective ensembles, including SCBA, during knockdown and overhaul for all fire responses
- Providing fire fighters with long hoods that are unlikely to come untucked
- Washing hands immediately and showering as soon as possible after a fire response
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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