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Improving Swine Worker Safety

23 November 2012, at 1:06pm

CANADA - An assistant professor with the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture reports the prospects of improving the productivity of swine barn workers by reducing their risk of injury is generating a lot of interest, writes Bruce Cochrane.

The Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan focuses on agricultural safety, rural health and delivery of training programmes.

"Injury Prevention in Pig Barns" was discussed last week in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2012. Dr Catherine Trask, an assistant professor with the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, says musculoskeletal injuries to muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons often develop over time so we have cumulative or chronic types of injuries.

Dr Catherine Trask-University of Saskatchewan:

One of the things that we were looking at when it comes to musculoskeletal disorders is the types of lifting, manual materials handling, the type of postures that people are getting into.

As with any heavy industry, agriculture and pork farming in particular has some higher risks. I think that anyone who has worked in pig farming for any amount of time will probably have awareness that they can have aches and pains at the end of the day, that there are certain tasks that are really heavy and that feel like those tasks are hard on the body.

I think that there's probably also a great deal of acceptance that these aches and pains are just part of the job and it's not that folks aren't aware of them but maybe they're not as aware of what might be done or what could be done to prevent some of those risk factors and to have people feeling healthier and stronger at the end of the day.

Dr Trask says there has been a lot of interest not just from a loss prevention perspective but also from the perspective of keeping workers healthier and happier and making the work place a better place to be.

She says producers have been very positive about the idea of implementing change and making work places healthier and safer.

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