Analyzing food industry processes ranging from production, processing, distribution, storage and retail, research has shown that workers are at increased risk of occupational illness, injury or death when compared to other industries.
In a study in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), researchers analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on occupational morbidity and mortality in food industries between 2008 and 2010. Researchers found that food industry workers had a 60 percent higher rate of occupational illness and injury than workers in non-food industries, with severe injuries requiring time off of work more than twice as frequently as those in non-food industries.
Although occupational deaths were relatively rare, the risk was 9.5 times higher in the food industry than in other industries. The study also lends insights into the causes of injuries in specific types of food industry jobs. For example, injuries due to slips, trips and falls were highest in the food processing, storage, and retail steps ? possibly related to the high use of refrigeration. Such insights may help in targeting specific workplace hazards across the food industry, researchers believe.