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Poultry Processing Industry eTool

Ergonomics - Awkward Postures - Bent Wrists

Working with wrists in a bent rather than straight position can result in ergonomic injuries, especially where the task also involves high hand force. Working with bent wrists puts stress on the tendons and tendon sheaths in the hands and wrists. When the wrists are bent the tendons and sheaths rub against hard bones and ligaments. If this happens repeatedly, the tendons and sheaths can become irritated and inflamed, resulting in injury such as tendonitis. The inflamed tendons and sheaths can also press against the nerves that run through the wrist to the hand, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.

A number of tasks in the poultry processing industry require employees to work with their wrists bent, including:
  • Inspection of body cavities — Employees often must bend their wrists to inspect body cavities or birds and remove missed material, especially if they must work at heights that are too high or low.
  • Boning, cutting/trimming — Using in-line knives often forces employees to bend their wrists in order to exert the finger and hand force necessary to hold and control the knife.

    • Boning tasks can force employees to bend their wrists 30 - 40 degrees, especially if they are working on a flat, horizontal surface.
    • Grip strength can be reduced by 25 - 55% when work must be performed with bent wrists.
  • Trimming — When employees hold meat during trimming, they often must bend the wrist toward the body so the meat is properly aligned for scissor use.
General controls to reduce awkward wrist postures:
  • Bent handle knives to allow cuts to be made with straight wrists.
  • Raised working platforms to allow employees to inspect body cavities of birds with straight wrists.

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