A new report released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found serious rates of carpal tunnel syndrome among employees at a South Carolina poultry processing plant.

The occupational safety regulator revealed that 42 percent of the employees who took part in the assessment had symptoms of the condition, which is characterized by pain and numbness in the hands and fingers and is most frequently found among people who do manual jobs with vibrating tools. The NIOSH said that 41 percent of the staff examined by officials were appointed to do jobs with hand activity and force above levels that were considered safe. Moreover, 57 percent of employees reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom, excluding those that affect hands and wrists.

Overall, the report noted that the poultry plant had injury and illness rates 1.3 times higher than the national average, with the majority of injuries at the facility being the result of cuts, punctures, scrapes, slips, trips and falls.

In its final report on the evaluation, the NIOSH recommended that the facility should improve work conditions and take measures to minimize exposure to factors that may elevate the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. These include implementation of new policies to reduce the amount of hand activity and force, the introduction of a new work schedule and rotation patterns and better work practices related to tool and equipment use.