Food-industry workers had a 60 percent higher rate of occupational illness and injury than workers in other industries, and severe injuries that necessitated taking time off work were twice as frequent for food industry workers. The risk of occupational death in the food industry was 9.5 times higher than in other industries.
The researchers analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data on occupational disease, accidents and deaths in food-related industries between 2008 and 2010. Using the "farm-to-table" model, the study might be able to assist in targeting particular workplace hazards within the food industry, according to Kira L. Newman of Emory University and other colleagues. The farm-to-table model framework includes five majors processes: food production, processing, distribution, storage and retail.
Those working in food processing, storage and retail were more likely to be injured as a result of a slip, trip or fall than those working in other stages of the farm-to-table model. This could be related to the high use of refrigeration, researchers said, writing, "Applying the farm-to-table model within occupational health . . . can reshape the understanding of how market forces in the food industry may impact workers and consumers."