Repetitive Motion Injury in Meat-Packing

Workers in the meatpacking industry have long complained of high risk of injury on-the-job. From lacerations to toxic substance exposure, bacterial infections and falls, workplace injuries in meat-packing are abundant. Perhaps the most commonly-reported injury among meat-packers is repetitive motion strain. In fact, repetitive motion injury in meat-packing is has grabbed national attention. Since the 1970’s, repetitive motion injuries have been on the rise in the workplace. Sometimes referred to as cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive motion injuries are caused by repeated motions with fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs in the course of daily work activities. Repeated motion, especially if done quickly and over a long period of time, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis and tendonitis—all examples of repetitive motion injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the disorder most commonly reported in the meat-packing industry, generally triggered by repeated bending of the wrist combined with gripping, squeezing, and twisting motions. A swelling in the wrist causes pressure on a nerve in the joint. Symptoms may start with tingling, numbness and swelling, but can lead to debilitating pain. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed as arthritis. If untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries can become a chronic disorder that can affect quality of life. Last March, workers from the U.S. poultry and meatpacking industries testified before an international rights body, siting high processing speeds as leading directly to significant rates of worker injury, particularly repetitive stress injuries. Some studies have found rates of carpal tunnel syndrome in various parts of the poultry and meatpacking industry to be anywhere from 40 and 80 percent, or even higher....

Protecting Braves Stadium Construction Workers

Construction workers erecting the massive SunTrust Park in Marietta, Georgia are the focus of a partnership–in hopes of protecting Braves stadium construction workers from injury on the construction site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Associated General Contractors of Georgia and American Builders 2017 are working together to increase safety, reduce illness and share best-practices. The strategic partnership encourages employers to find and fix potential problems before workers can be harmed from hazards such as silica exposure monitoring, faulty ergonomics, falls, electric shock, heat illness, and mis-communication due to language barriers. With about 6,000 workers involved in the Braves ballpark project, deliberate safety measures are necessary to minimize the potential for injury. The $600 million ballpark project covers about 60 acres, and will eventually seat over 41,000 baseball fans. American Builders 2017, a joint venture between Brasfield & Gorrie, Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow Company and New South Construction Company, is heading up the SunTrust Park construction project. On the other side of town, the Atlanta Falcons stadium construction appears to be coming along well, according to photos released by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Workers are reportedly pouring concrete decks and columns as well as the concrete slab on the north side of the structure. Seating continues to be erected this month along with the masonry block walls at the field level. The $1.5 billion Falcons stadium is a ‘stone’s throw’ from the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons currently play in downtown Atlanta. The Dome will be imploded after the new stadium opens. Construction workers on the Braves and Falcons sites, and any outdoor venue are particularly vulnerable to injury in...

Heat-Related Illness On-the-Job

With temperatures soaring well into the 90’s in Georgia this week, it’s a good time to become aware of precautions to prevent heat-related illness on-the-job. Workers in construction, roofing, landscaping, surveying, roadside work or any other line of work that involves physical exertion in the outdoors, need to be keenly aware of the dangers of working in high temperatures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently launched a campaign to build awareness and prevent heat illness in outdoor workers. The campaign motto: “Water. Rest. Shade. The work can’t get done without them” is designed to drive home the importance of taking precautions before the effects of heat are felt. Thousands of workers become ill each year while working in the heat. About 500 people even die from heat stroke. Two heat-related deaths were reported years ago in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A masonry worker and a pressure-washer both died due to ‘delayed effect’ heat stroke. The mason was returning from his break when he collapsed and later died at the hospital. When temperatures are exceedingly high, the body cannot cool itself by sweat alone, and may not be able to regulate its internal temperature. An increase in body temperature of 2 degrees Fahrenheit can affect mental performance. An increase of 5 degrees can cause serious illness or death. More than 20 percent of people affected by heat stroke die. Workers for large outdoor construction firms such as Brasfield & Gorrie, Balfour Beatty, Holder Construction and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company are susceptible to heat-related illness. Physical exertion exacerbates the effects of heat. Employees of roofing companies such as Dr. Roof and Academy...

Teens injured in Fast Food Restaurants

As we head into the dog-days of summer in Georgia, many of our young people are forfeiting the pool for long days at work, attempting to save money before starting back to school. And with the uptick in seasonal employment, we see a rise in injuries, especially among teens. Teens injured in fast-food restaurants is a big cause of concern for both businesses and families. Burns from hot grease, falls on slippery floors, sprains, strains and contusions are all common injuries for restaurant workers. Teens working in restaurants have six times greater risk of sustaining a work-related burn injury than teens working in any other industry, a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study reported. Seasonal workers are typically at increased risk of injury for several reasons, including inexperience and lack of on-the-job training. Add a teenager to that statistic and you have even greater risk of on-the-job injury. In two years of research, NIOSH reported 48,500 trips to the emergency room for teen working in fast food restaurants. Hot grease in fry cookers are a big source of burn injuries in restaurants. A few simple processes can help reduce risk of burn injuries, including provisions of safety handles on scrapers, gloves, and allowing grease to cool before cleaning. Cashiers are often susceptible to falls as they tend to turn between counter and cash register, frequently with greasy floors beneath their feet. Non-slip floor mats and appropriate shoes are must-haves for fast-food workers on the front lines. More than half of all fall injuries are due to wet or greasy floors. We all want our young people to...

A Workers’ Comp Success Story

Felicia S. is no stranger to hard work. As a retail manager working with high-end customers, she has learned to transition from up-selling at the make-up counter to packing piles of fragrance boxes at the blink of an eyelash. But after Felicia took a bad fall at work while taking down a visual display, her career -and her confidence- seemed to lie on shaky ground. “I couldn’t see straight after my fall,” Felicia told us. “Everything seemed to hurt. I had been carrying fragrance boxes which jammed into my ribcage. I landed hard on my knee. There was nowhere to sit and re-group. I was just on the ground.” A colleague helped Felicia get to the office to file a claim and get help. From there, she was able to get herself to the doctor who diagnosed her injury as a basic contusion of the knee. After a few days off work with standard treatment for the knee, Felicia was ready to tackle the job again. “I wanted to get back to work, but I still didn’t feel up-to-speed. My ribcage was bothering me so much- I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  A couple of my managers could see the pain on my face.” As Felicia learned, pain from an injury often settles in days- sometimes weeks- after the initial accident. Felicia’s doctor later diagnosed her with a cracked rib, based on her symptoms. Felicia took additional time off of work to receive physical therapy, and eventually knee surgery. Surgeons repaired a torn medial meniscus, including a cleanup of the kneecap which revealed additional deficits in that area. “I...