A team of industrial psychologists at the University of Sheffield has found that every year over 70 000 people seek treatment in accident and emergency units as a result of accidents with packaging.

This costs the NHS alone an estimated £12M and also represents a considerable cost to the economy in terms of lost workdays.

Many accidents caused by packaging affect the elderly. They experience particular problems due to reduced eyesight and hand strength. Some of the most common packaging injuries are cuts from glass and tins and from using scissors to open tear-off cartons.

As a result of their research the Faraday Packaging Research Group at the University has produced a leaflet highlighting the most common packaging accidents and injuries. The leaflet is aimed at the over 55s and will be distributed to local groups across the country.

The team has also enclosed a questionnaire with the leaflet so that they can build on their research and send a summary of their findings to supermarkets and packaging companies.

Dr. Belinda Winder, an expert in consumer psychology at the University of Sheffield and leader of the study says: “This research offers the elderly a wonderful opportunity to tell manufacturers exactly what they think of their products.

“Too often packaging is designed with children and young adults in mind, with little thought given to the problems that the elderly or disabled people may face.

“Our work attempts to highlight the problems and dangers associated with packaging but also gives elderly consumers a voice, enabling them to express any problems they face with packaging and to make a difference to the way that packaging manufacturers think.”