What is the secret to having a successful ergonomics program in your manufacturing facility? Depending upon who you ask, you might hear answers like, “training”, “budgeting”, and “management support”. While all those are good, the answer you might get from International Truck and Engine Corp. is, “employee contribution to design”.
When it came time for International to introduce a new product, employees contributed ideas, experience, and solutions in aspects from process to layout. In addition to employees, the team in charge of ergonomics consisted of representatives from management, union, plant and industrial engineering, quality, production, materials, health and safety, and planning. The initial outcome was a laundry list of jobs and stations that needed improvement. The final product was a line that was not only safer and more comfortable for employees, but more efficient too.
International recognized that certain assembly stations were creating excessive costs to the company in lost time, high rotation, and injuries like back and shoulder strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Recognizing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and their costs is the first step to successful workplace ergonomics.
Effective controls included reducing awkward postures, especially bending; process changes; mechanical fasteners and lifts; tool balancing; torque reducing tools; and some task automation.
Does your company have a success story for ergonomics? If so, showcase it in Ergonomics Today