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

Task 2: Opener (Vent Opener)

Vent OpenerThe opener uses scissors to manually cut open the bird. Most companies have eliminated this position by installing an automatic vent opener machine. Employees that serve as backup to the machine monitor the birds coming out of the machine and manually open any birds that may have been missed.

Hazards of this task may include:

Ergonomic hazards from use of scissors
Hazardous Situation:
Workers often use manual scissors that can cause ergonomic stress on the arms, hands, and fingers. Repeated opening of the jaws can irritate and inflame the tendons and sheaths of the hand. This is especially a problem if employees are positioned either too high or low in relation to the bird, such that the wrist is bent while finger force is exerted. The tendon and sheath can experience contact damage as they are pulled across the bones and ligaments of the wrist. Contact between the loop handles of the scissors and the sides of the fingers can damage nerves and blood vessels.
Possible Solutions: Return to Top

Reaching to the shackles
Hazardous Situation:
Workers are required to repeatedly reach to the shackles to access the bird so that various tasks can be performed. Reaching creates stress on the arms, shoulders, neck, and back because the weight of the arm and scissors must be supported.
Possible Solutions:
  • Lower shackles and/or move them closer to employees so they can perform task with elbows in close to body.
  • Install height-adjustable stands so employees can properly position themselves.
  • Install automatic machines and make sure they are working properly.
  • Rotate workers to tasks that use different parts of the body or that work at a slower pace.
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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 Solution:
  • Install sit/stand stools, which allow employees to lean and have their weight supported while still remaining in an upright posture.
  • Rotate 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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