Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

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Poultry Processing Industry eTool

Ergonomics General Controls of Ergonomic Hazards

Palletizers allow loading at waist height Spring loaded scissors relieve contact stress to the hand Narrower conveyors and cutting surfaces reduce distant reaches Ergonomic and Upright Handle Knives; 30 degree and Upright Handle Knives; and 45 degree Bend and Pistol Grip Knives Man standing against equipment to show correct posture

Controlling ergonomic hazards should usually address the following limits for body postures:

  • Generally, the torso should not be bent forward farther than 20 to 30 degrees from vertical.
  • Reaches should be limited vertically and horizontally to those areas where the elbows can remain in close to the torso.
  • The wrist should not be bent either up or down, or to either side.
  • The forearm should not be repeatedly rotated especially when the wrist is bent.
  • The head should not be bent either forward or backward.
  • The torso should not be twisted especially when lifting or bending.

Training employees should include the following:

  • The basics of biomechanics, or how much force can be placed upon the body before it breaks down;
  • The specific safe ergonomic work procedures for their particular tasks;
  • How and why to properly adjust their work fixtures and equipment;
  • Early warning signs of ergonomic injury;
  • Procedures for reporting ergonomic injuries; and
  • Procedures for post-reporting follow-up to minimize the chance of long term injury.


  • Platforms raise employees so they can reduce elevated reaches.
  • Narrower conveyors and cutting surfaces reduce distant reaches.
  • Bent handled knives allow cuts to be made with the wrist in a neutral position.
  • Spring loaded scissors relieve contact stress to the hand.
  • Palletizers allow loading at waist height.
  • Reducing the size of boxes limits the weight of a box.
  • Tubs with an adjustable floor raise the load to eliminate the need for reaching down to remove product.
  • Ramping conveyors allows placement of shorter employees in positions where they can reach the line.

Early warning symptoms of ergonomic injury may include:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Cramping
  • Loss of color
  • Numbness (asleep)
  • Pain
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
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