From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Shoe Manufacturing Procedures

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Ergonomic case study for shoe manufacturing procedures. Workers had to perform 75 to 100 different manufacturing procedures to produce a pair of shoes. These procedures include :

  1. Cutting the variable parts of a shoe
  2. Sewing operations
  3. Assembling
  4. Packaging

Workers had to attach as many as five different advertising tags to each pair of shoes and lace them by hand.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)

Annual OSHA recordable injuries ranked one third of the manufacturing work force from 1980 to 1986.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Medical records : Injury, illness rates (mostly CTDs) were increasing.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Since many workstations were not adjustable, workers were in awkward positions while performing many of the tasks.
Workers had to bend over and reach up to perform some tasks.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Repetition)

Workers had to attach as many as five different advertising tags to each pair of shoes and lace them by hand.
3.5 million pairs of shoes are manufactured by employees each year.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

  1. An ergonomist was hired.
    Several programs including exercise and conditioning,
  2. stretching, and safety awareness were performed.
  3. Employee training programs were initiated.
  4. Special training on ergonomics for industrial engineers and maintenance workers was performed.
  5. Continuous flow manufacturing including group working, cross training, and job rotation was instituted.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. New adjustable chairs were purchased for seated employees.
  2. Anti-fatigue mats were purchased for all standing jobs.
  3. The cast iron base on heavy equipment was cut off and refitted with an adjustable base.
  4. Electric or pneumatic foot pedals were used instead of non-adjustable mechanical ones.
  5. Prepackaged shoe laces were purchased to eliminate hand-tying repetition.
  6. Sewing machines were tilted toward the worker to eliminate awkward posture.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

  • All workers that perform the tasks now have reduced exposure to CTDs.
  • Workers compensation costs dropped from $ 4.4 million in 1990 to about $ 1.3 million in 1995.
  • Manufacturing time was reduced.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

  • CTD related injuries were reduced.
  • Repetitive motion injuries in two problem areas were reduced to 25 to 30 percent of the total OSHA recordable incidents in three years.


Listen to operators. They often have the easy solution to the problem.