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Task 3: Neck Breaker



The neck breaker uses a knife to cut the neck of the bird. Most companies have eliminated this position by installing an automatic neck breaking machine. Employees serve as backup to this machine.

Hazards of this task may include:


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 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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Reaching to the shackles
Hazardous Situation:
Neck Breakers perform various tasks by reaching repeatedly to the shackles. Reaching creates stress on the arms, shoulders, neck, and back.
Possible Solutions:
  • Lower shackles and/or move them closer to employees so they can perform the task with elbows in close to body.
  • Install height-adjustable stands so employees can properly position themselves.
  • Install automatic machines and ensure 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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Ergonomic hazards from use of knives
Hazardous Situation:
Workers use a knife to cut the neck away from the body. The cutting motion may entail some bending of the wrist. Factors such as poorly fitting gloves, slick handles, inappropriately sized handles, or dull knives increase the force that must be used. Finger force and bending the wrist are recognized risk factors for developing many hand injuries; minimize these factors when performing cutting tasks.
Possible Solutions:
  • Keep knives sharp and in good condition.
  • Remove damaged knives from service.
  • Use knives appropriate for the task.
  • Keep the wrist as straight as possible during the cutting task.
  • Provide properly sized gloves.
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