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Woman cleaning poultry inside a plant


Many poultry processing jobs involve factors that increase the risk of developing work-related injuries or illness. These factors include risks for musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and include repetition, force, awkward and static postures. Exposures to disinfectant chemicals or chemical byproducts have been known to cause respiratory irritation and asthma. Spices, flour, and coatings have been linked to bronchitis, cough, and allergic reactions. Cold temperatures have been associated with increased injuries as well as musculoskeletal disorders. Infectious agents, such as bacteria, have caused increased rates of diarrheal diseases and other skin infections.

NIOSH offers resources listed below to help employers and workers identify risk factors and take effective measures to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in poultry processing.

NIOSH Finds Alarming 42 % Rate of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) at South Carolina Poultry Processing Plant

Health Hazard Evaluation Poultry Report, March 2015: Evaluation of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Musculoskeletal Disorders among Employees at a Poultry Processing Plant

NIOSH Science Blog: High Prevalence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome among Poultry Workers

NIOSH Update, March 27, 2014: New NIOSH Report Evaluating Musculoskeletal Disorders and Traumatic Injuries in a Poultry Processing Plant

Final Health Hazard Evaluation Report, March 2014: Evaluation of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Traumatic Injuries Among Employees at a Poultry Processing Plant

Letter to the Administrator, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, from NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., April 7, 2014

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  • Page last reviewed: April 8, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 28, 2015 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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