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

Task 8: Back/Breast Separator

poultry worker Employees may use a saw with a manual feed to separate the breast section from the back. This manual feed technique 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 multi-cut 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 repeatedly reaches to conveyor or shelf to obtain birds for processing. 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 machine.
  • Use diverter bars to push the product closer to the employee.
  • Reduce width of the 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 employee working with an unguarded saw. 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 product.
  • Guard all portions of the blade except for an opening large enough to feed product.
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Standing for a long time
Hazardous Situation:
Standing for a long time reduces blood flow to the legs, forces isolated muscles to work for an extended time, and increases 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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