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Occup Environ Med 67:686-692 doi:10.1136/oem.2009.048611
  • Original article

A case-crossover study of occupational laceration injuries in pork processing: methods and preliminary findings

  1. Melissa J Perry5
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  2. 2Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3College of Engineering, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
  4. 4School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  5. 5Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  6. 6Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Melissa J Perry, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Building 1 Room 1413, Boston, MA 02115, USA; mperry{at}hsph.harvard.edu
  1. Contributors All authors included on this paper fulfil the criteria of authorship. In addition, there is no one else who fulfils the criteria for authorship but has not been included as an author.

  • Accepted 26 December 2009

Abstract

Objectives Meatpacking remains a hazardous and largely unexamined industry. Despite prevention efforts, laceration injuries, among others, remain high. We estimated the magnitude of associations between transient exposures such as equipment malfunction, performing an unusual work task, rushing, and occurrence of laceration injuries.

Methods Injured workers were recruited from two pork-processing plants, one in Iowa and one in Nebraska. A telephone interview was conducted within 7 days of the injury, on average to collect information on fixed and transient exposures preceding the injury event. Case-crossover methodology was used to evaluate case and control data within the same subject, thus controlling for between-subject confounding. A Mantel–Haenszel estimator for person-time data was used to estimate the relative risks of injury and transient exposures of interest.

Results Of the 362 workers with lacerations between April 2006 and October 2007, 153 (42%) were interviewed (74% male, 41% Hispanic). Forty-eight per cent were injured by a knife or a knife-like object such as scissors or a band saw. Other sources of lacerations included sharp edges and hooks. Tool sharpening was associated with the highest RR of laceration (RR 8.4, 95% CI 5.4 to 12.8) followed by slipping (RR 74.8, 95% CI 30.5 to 183.3), equipment malfunction (RR 3.8, 95% CI 2.8 to 5.3), and performing an unusual task (RR 3.7, 95% CI 2.6 to 5.2). Being tired, distracted, or rushing were not significant risk factors for a laceration.

Conclusions Aspects of the physical environment and work practices appear to be significant risk factors for laceration injury in meatpacking. Personal risk factors were less significant in this study.

Footnotes

  • Funding NIOSH Other Funders: NIH.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and by the Office of Human Research Administration of the Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.