Wednesday, 5 June 2013

WASHINGTON -- A recent government study of workers at a poultry plant in South Carolina determined that four out of 10 showed signs of the painful hand-and-arm condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome, a finding that raises fresh concerns about a federal proposal that would allow plants to speed up their slaughtering lines.

Poultry processing work is full of repetitive motion, and numerous reports have documented the job's health and safety hazards over the years. The recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined just one plant, but workplace health experts say it offers one of the most granular looks at how the job takes a toll on line workers -- and how faster line speeds, currently being considered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could possibly make things worse.

"This gives you a snapshot of what goes on in one plant," said Celeste Monforton, a public health expert at George Washington University. "It's done and it shows damning results. ... I don't know how USDA will dismiss what's in this."


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