A survey of Hispanic poultry workers in western North Carolina suggests that policy changes such as encouraging job rotation and creating worker safety committees could result in fewer worker injuries.
"Policy changes are needed to improve the health and safety of workers," said Joseph Grzywacz, Ph.D., of the Center for Latino Health Research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "Poultry processing has among the highest occupational illness and injury rates of any private industry."
The recommendations follow a report issued in September from the same survey showing that almost half of workers had pain in their hands or arms during the previous month and 25 percent reported an occupational illness or injury in the past year.
"The reported rates of illness and injuries in the poultry industry are likely to be the tip of the iceberg," wrote the authors in the first report. "Workers often see the hazards as just part of the job, or they move on to other jobs as they begin to develop symptoms."
In this second report, the researchers discuss how management practices, such as the way jobs are designed or performed, may influence worker health. Among their recommendations are that:
- Worker advocacy groups and community agencies should work with poultry processing plants to build a culture of safety in the plants.
- Companies should create "safety committees" that include workers from across the company to give workers more control over their work environment.
- Companies should implement a job-rotation program, such as described by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to increase job variety and reduce the incidence of injuries.
"These policy changes can help ensure that poultry processing jobs are organized in a way that protects worker health in this vulnerable population," said Grzywacz, lead author on the second report. He is an assistant professor of family and cPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
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