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Injury Prevention
in the Meat industry

The Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit was contracted by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to conduct a formative and process evaluation of a project funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation for injury prevention in the meat industry. The programme was implemented by the Meat and Related Trades Workers' Union of Aotearoa Inc. in association with the NZ Council of Trade Unions.

The Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit has recently completed its sixth and final process evaluation report for the project.

Three plants were selected for the Meat Workers Union project because of high injury rates and a diversity of work and plant size. The goals of the project were:

  • To promote and evaluate measures to reduce the incidence and severity of accidents and other causes of personal injury in the freezing industry.
  • To promote the concept of health and safety as a shared responsibility of plant owners, manager, unions, employees, health and safety committees and relevant government agencies.

Strategies and activities were informed by literature review and consultation with plant staff. They included consultation with the plants to gain their support, collection of baseline data and ergonomic assessments for each plant; the development of networks with stakeholders; and the implementation of initial intervention strategies; followed by assessment and further development. Interventions to reduce knife cuts included introducing protective gloves and clothing, developing new knives and other equipment, changes to work organisation and improved training. Interventions to reduce sprains and strains included ergonomic improvements through engineering modifications and redesigning, job rotation, changes in work compression, training, and the introduction of systems for hazard identification and early reporting.

The Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit's role as formative evaluators included contributing knowledge from literature reviews and analysis of injury data; helping identify project priorities' consultation and negotiation with project stakeholders; assistance in developing questionnaires, participation in regular meetings and liaison with project staff; site visits and on-going monitoring of injury data. Process evaluation research activities focused on documenting what occurred as the project was implemented and perceptions of, and responses to, the project were established among all participants. Information was collected through reviews of project documents, participant observation and key informant interviews. This information was then fed back to the project coordinators for purposes of further development of strategies and activities.

The Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit is currently undertaking an outcome evaluation of the injury prevention project. This will include both quantitative and qualitative information, including injury statistics and stakeholders' perceptions about the impact of the project. Findings from the process evaluation reports will be used to help interpret project outcomes.

Carla Spinola, Allan Wyllie, John Benseman, Brendon Dacey, Michael Blewden

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