One in three workers have carpal tunnel syndrome at Maryland poultry plant

One in three workers have carpal tunnel syndrome at Maryland poultry plant (via The Pump Handle). This report from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is absolutely shocking. In summary:

  • 59% of jobs were at risk because of the combination of hand activity and force required
  • 34% of workers examined had carpal-tunnel syndrome
  • 76% of workers examined had evidence of damage to the nerves in at least one hand

Carpal tunnel syndrome and other work-related upper limb disorders are both foreseeable and preventable, and to fail to identify and act on the risk is negligence on the part of the employer. As this report identifies, work design is critical to protecting workers and preventing life-changing injuries. The report makes recommendations to employers in the poultry processing sector, including:

  • Implementing the OSHA industry guidelines
  • Designing tasks to reduce hand activity and force to safe levels
  • Reducing the speed of lines
  • Rotating tasks to reduce muscular stress
  • Providing more breaks
  • Implementing health surveillance

What’s missing from this list, and is crucial to success in my view, is the provision of clear, understandable information about the health risks from the work activities, together with instruction, training and supervision on adapting work stations to fit the individual workers. Adjusting workstations is listed as an action for employees, not employers, in the NIOSH report. This is a missed opportunity for the regulator to send a clear message to businesses that they are ultimately responsible for providing safe systems of work for their employees. At a recent training session on musculo-skeletal disorders the trainer, a former HSE inspector, asked us whether we would rather lose a finger or have carpal-tunnel syndrome. We all would have chosen to lose a finger.

Homo computerus

Homo computerus Poland, Central Institute for Labour Protection 2004-2011 Designer/Artist: Skakun, Jerzy

Homo computerus
Poland, Central Institute for Labour Protection
Designer/Artist: Skakun, Jerzy

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) published a book last month featuring a collection of 50 workplace safety and health posters. They were designed for or developed by agencies and advocates between 1925 and 2004. The book, The Art of Preventive Health Safety in Europe, is well worth a browse. Health and safety practitioners will recognise many old adversaries within its pages.

Many thanks to the excellent Pump Handle blog for bringing this to my attention.

50 creative ideas for health and safety trainers

More excellent ideas from David Newsum and Tessa Blewchamp.

"The Creative Trainer" - by David Newsum

Its out! Its the bargain of the year!! Only 99p!!! Yes I have launched my latest e-book this morning – “50 great ideas for livening up your health and safety courses”. I have written this with the kind assistance of Tessa Blewchamp, and we are delighted to be able to share these ideas which can be used on all levels of health and safety courses. This time the ebook is in a simple pdf format, and instantly downloadable as soon as you pay. (paypal account is the easiest but credit and debit cards also accepted.) Just click or copy and paste the link below:

The ideas do not have long explanations or instructions – its up to you to take them and make them work with your learners. So, for less than the price of the cheapest coffee, you have a great set of tips to set your courses…

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