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Poultry Processing Industry eTool
Plant-Wide Hazards
Receiving and Killing
Cutting and Deboning

Task 3: Saw Operator

saw operator Employees may use a saw with a manual feed to cut leg/thigh or wings away from the main carcass, or may load a machine that automatically performs cuts. Manual feed saws can be used to remove legs from the back, divide the legs, cut wings away from the breast, and to split the breast in two. After being loaded, automated machines perform the same cuts as described above.

Hazards of this task may include:

Reaching to access product, saws, or machine load areas
Hazardous Situation:
Employee reaches repeatedly to conveyor or shelf to obtain birds for processing. Reaches are also necessary to place birds into the automatic saw feed mechanism and perform manual cuts. Repetitive reaching stresses the shoulder and upper back.
Possible Solutions:
  • If the feed conveyor is between the saw and the employee, reduce the width of feed conveyors to reduce reaching to the machine.
  • Use diverter bars to push the product closer to the employee.
  • Reduce width of supply conveyor so the product is presented closer to the employee.
  • Position saws and other work fixtures so all activities of the task can be performed with the elbows in close to the torso.
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Cuts and lacerations
Hazardous Situation:
The nature of this task involves employees working with unguarded saws. Cuts, lacerations, and amputations are possible.
Possible Solutions: 
  • Wear cut-proof mesh gloves on both hands.
  • Keep hands to the side of the blade during feeding of the product.
  • Guard all portions of the blade except for an opening large enough to feed the product.
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Standing for a long time
Hazardous Situation:
Standing for a long time reduces blood flow to the legs and forces isolated muscles to work for extended periods of time. This increases the risk of fatigue and varicose veins.
Possible Solutions:
  • Install sit/stand stools, which allow employees to lean and have their weight supported while still remaining in an upright posture.
  • Rotate employees to tasks that do not require prolonged standing.
  • Provide shoe insoles that cushion the feet and spread foot pressure over a larger surface.
  • Provide a foot rest in front of employees so they can shift their posture.
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