Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2004-0001-2937, Superior Dairy, Canton, Ohio.
On October 2, 2003, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a confidential request for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) from three workers at Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio. The HHE requestors noted that approximately 30 workers on the cake line in the ice cream department were experiencing tendonitis; strains to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers; and upper and lower back disorders. During February 18-20, 2004, NIOSH investigators conducted an opening conference, attended by representatives of the management and Teamsters Local 113 (Milk and Ice Cream Drivers and Dairy Employees); a plant walkthrough; interviews with workers; review of accident and injury logs; and observation of the work tasks specified in the HHE request. The ergonomics evaluation indicated that the jobs in the ice cream department were highly repetitive, with the filler, scraper, and packing line jobs being the most stressful to the musculoskeletal system. Confidential interviews were conducted with all 23 dessert cake line workers (11 women and 12 men) who were present during the days of the evaluation. Musculoskeletal injury and strain were the most commonly reported health concerns. All of the women and 70% of the men described moderate to severe work-related musculoskeletal disorders ranging from intermittent wrist and shoulder pain to chronic neck shoulder and low back pain. Workers consistently mentioned that the pace of production, the lack of consistent breaks, and the use of equipment that was not specifically designed for the tasks at hand were responsible for many of their musculoskeletal disorders. Based on observations, employee interviews, OSHA log review, and measurements taken during this HHE, NIOSH investigators conclude that workers in the ice cream cake department of Superior Dairy are experiencing a high prevalence of chronic, work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities and back. Recommendations to reduce the risk of further injury to workers are contained in this report.