Task Prior to Abatement (Description)
Sikorsky’s helicopter assembly plant was built long before ergonomics became part of design considerations. This old fashioned design consideration introduced a number of Cumulative Trauma Disorders in plant during the time. One of the most stressful task in the plant was assembling the aircraft door which had caused a few number of back injury among employees. Workers had to hold the doors in place with one hand while trimming or drilling with the other and carrying them for several feet during assembly procedures. Extended reach and repetitive motion was required to perform this task.
Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)
OSHA lost workday incident and severity rates verified the task to be hazardous.
Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)
There was evidence of medical records that showed the task is hazardous, including:
- Injury, illness rates for this task were highest in the company, leading with back injuries.
- Accident Prevention Notification (APN) and Safety Action Request (SAR) program disclosed the task to be ergonomically unacceptable with high rates of back injury.
- An employee was injured during manual lifting of aircraft doors.
Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)
Employees had to reach across a 5-foot table repetitively to get the parts for assembly while working on the doors.
Ergonomic Risk Factor (Repetition)
Small parts were in boxes that required the employees to repetitively lift them from the boxes for assembly. reach across a 5-foot table.
The doors needed to be manually shaken.
Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)
Training was provided.
Three pilot process action were performed to identify the root causes of injuries and recommending corrective action.
Empowering workers as teams to identify ergonomics related conditions in the plant.
Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)
A universal clamp was designed and installed to hold the aircraft doors in any position.
An auto shaker was used to eliminate the manual shake of the doors.
Grinding booth and oven were brought closer to the work area.
The tables were cut down to three feet to reduce the reach.
Parts were removed from boxes and placed in a parts carousel and kits.
Adjustable work chairs were provided for workers.
Transportation carts were provided for ease of movement.
Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)
All workers that perform this task now have reduced exposure to low back injury risk factors.
Reduction in workers’ compensation costs and eliminating the costly retrofitting of processes.
Production time was reduced 33 percent.
Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)
In the past five years, Sikorsky’s OSHA lost workday incident and severity rates have dropped by more than 75 percent.
The OSHA Total Recordable Incident Rate has dropped 25 percent in the past year.
Workers’ compensation costs have dramatically improved over this same period.
Proactive Ergonomics programs and empowering the employees are the two key factors in reducing injuries in the workplace, reducing workers’ compensation costs and improving productivity.
Thaler, J., March/April 1996, The Sikorsky Success Story, Workplace Ergonomics.