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Economic Analysis of New Workplace Technology Including Productivity and Injury: The Case of Needle-Less Injection in Swine

Increasing intensification in swine production has led to new and specialized technologies, but the occupational health and safety impacts are rarely quantified in the business plans for adoption. Needle-less injection has potential to increase productivity and eliminate needle stick injury in workers, but it is not clear whether these benefits offset high capital investment and potential increases in musculoskeletal loads. This economic evaluation employed probabilistic scenario analysis using injury, cost, and production data gathered from interviews with swine producers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. After adoption of needle-less injection, rates of needle-stick injury went down with no measureable effect on upper limb musculoskeletal disorders, resulting in lower health and safety costs for needle-less injectors. Needle-less injection duration was 40% faster once workers acclimatized, but large start-up costs mean economic benefits are realized only after the first year. The incremental benefit cost ratio promoted adoption of needle-less injectors over conventional needles for the base case of a 1200 sow barn; the conventional method is beneficial for barns with 600 sows or less. Findings indicate that well-designed technologies have the potential to achieve the dual ergonomics goals of enhancing human wellbeing and system performance. We anticipate that the economic and decision models developed in this study can be applied to other new technologies in agriculture and animal production.

Imeah B, Penz E, Rana M, Trask C, Needle-less injector Study Team. Economic analysis of new workplace technology including productivity and injury: the case of needle-less injection in swine. PLoS One. 2020 June. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233599