In the early 1990s, the OSHA recordable rate for ergonomics injuries (musculoskeletal disorder cases and some sprain/strain cases) was over 2.0, and the lost day case rate was over .50. In the ten years since, Intel has developed an ergonomics program among the best in the semiconductor industry. For 2001, the ergonomics recordable rate was .10 and the lost day case rate was .03.
In 1991, Intel recognized that ergonomic related injuries comprised a significant portion of the total occupational injuries and illnesses across the company.
The effort to establish a formal ergonomics program at Intel started in 1991 with the identification of a corporate position for program development. Shortly thereafter Intel began hiring ergonomics program coordinators to provide leadership and direction for the individual sites. A cross-site team composed of ergonomists, occupational health professionals, and management was formed in 1991 to develop an ergonomics program guideline that outlines the core components of a successful ergonomics program. The guideline includes: management commitment (from all levels), employee involvement, accident investigation and case management, employee training, and hazard analysis and resolution. The site coordinators were charged with implementing this ergonomics program at each company worksite.
Over the years many things have changed. Intel is approximately four times the size it was in the early 90s. Today, the company has approximately 28 full-time ergonomists around the world. The program guideline has been reviewed and revised on several occasions, but is still built around the same core components. The early focus was on the wafer fabrication business. The program has since been successfully proliferated to assembly and test manufacturing, systems manufacturing, warehousing operations, offices and laboratories. Today, much of Intel's manufacturing and office ergonomics training is accomplished via web-based training enhanced with animations and streaming video, making training available in remote locations without direct ergonomics support. The company also offers a web-based tool for employees to assess their office setup for ergonomics issues. This tool populates a database with office details such as desk height and adjunct preference to aid office planners in employee moves. The ergonomists use sophisticated application software for ergonomic risk assessment, which is designed internally and based on the latest ergonomics research for risk assessment. For all of the company's improvements in tools and processes, the greatest contribution to its program success comes from consistent outstanding management support for the ergonomics program, and the understanding among employees that they are responsible for their own safety.
In the ten years since the program's inception, while the size of the company has quadrupled, the recordable rate and lost day case rate for ergonomics related injuries has decreased approximately 95 percent, to .10 and .03 respectively. In 1999 the Semiconductor Industry Association ranked Intel and 18 other major companies in terms of total recordable case rate, and Intel ranked best with a total recordable rate of .30 compared to the Semiconductor Industry median of 2.77 and a high of 6.13.
In 1996 the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) presented Intel with an Outstanding Achievement Award for improvements in productivity, ergonomics and measurement of work and workplaces. In 1999 Intel won the Outstanding Office Ergonomics Award from the Center for Office Technology (COT). In 2001 Intel won the Green Cross for Safety from the National Safety Council.
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