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Handy Piglet Cradle Saves Workers From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Helmut Janz has had two surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in the 20 years he has worked in the hog industry. As manager of a barn for Maple Leaf Agri-Farms in Manitoba, he decided to do something about it when two of his employees were also diagnosed with the painful condition.
  Janz designed and built a piglet processing arm to hold young pigs safely while workers do tasks like dock tails, castrate and orally inject vitamins and minerals. The key component is a universal joint that allows it to be easily turned for access to the piglet’s head and tail. Janz welded the top of the joint to a cradle of 1/8-in. bent steel. The piglet is secured with a Velcro strap in the cradle, which is lined with foam.
  Workers keep one hand over the pig to steady it, which is much easier than holding a 3 to 5-lb. squirming piglet, Janz says. With hundreds of piglets processed every week, the cradle eliminates repetitive stress and strain on worker’s arms and wrists.
  Since making the first unit 1 1/2 years ago, he has made several more to mount on employees’ work carts for workers in 20 barns in the Maple Leaf Farm system. Each unit costs about $400, Janz says, but they will last for years.
  The invention won Janz the F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production in Canada. While he doesn’t personally benefit financially from the device, he would like to see other hog production companies use it.
  While processing slowed at first as employees learned to use the device, they quickly got back up to normal speed. Within 2 weeks, the two employees with CTS were pain-free and did not need surgery.
  “Workers tell me now that if I took the processing arms away, they would quit,” Janz says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Helmut Janz, Box 5621, RR1, Steinbach, Man., Canada R5G 1L9 (helmutjanz@gmail.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #3