Self-reported occupational injuries among industrial beef slaughterhouse workers in the Midwestern United States.

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Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, ISSN: 1545-9632, Vol: 14, Issue: 1, Page: 23-30

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Leibler, Jessica H; Perry, Melissa J.
Informa UK Limited; Taylor and Francis
Medicine; Environmental Public Health; Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene
article description
Although workers in meatpacking facilities in the U.S. experience high rates of occupational injury, their injury experiences have received limited research attention. Prior research indicates underreporting in injury rates in this industry as well significant variation in injury rates among facilities. To add detail to the rates and circumstances surrounding occupational injury among meatpacking workers, we conducted a cross-sectional study of workers employed at an industrial beefpacking plant in Nebraska (n = 137) and interviewed workers about recent injury experiences. We assessed frequency, cause and nature of self-reported injury. We estimated annual incidence rates of self-reported injuries using the OSHA formula and compared these rates to industry-wide data. We also evaluated psychological distress in this workforce as measured by the Kessler-6 scale to assess whether distress was associated with recent occupational injury. In this study, 15.1% of workers experienced occupational injuries that required time off work, job transfer, or restriction during the past three months. The estimated annual incidence rate was 15.2 injuries per 100 full-time workers for these injuries at this plant. Rushing was identified as the cause of nearly 50% of injuries, and repetitive work as the cause of an additional 20% of injuries. Use of metal mesh sleeves (POR: 0.10 (p = 0.008)) and metal mesh gloves (POR: 0.41 (p = 0.05) were associated with reduced risk of injury. Use of a carbon steel for knife sharpening (POR: 5.2 (p = 0.02)) was associated with elevated risk of moderate and severe injury. There were no associations between self-reported occupational injury and overall measures of psychological distress. Self-reported incidence rate of severe injury in this plant was more than twice official industry estimates. Worker self-reports may illustrate key areas for injury prevention.