Success Brief:To protect its employees from ergonomics-related injuries, Pitney Bowes implemented changes in its process from product design to manufacturing and, as a result, enjoys a high level of employee contentment and longevity on the job.
Medical costs and employee time away from work due to significant on-the-job stresses.
The company instituted a program that focuses on ergonomics from the design to the manufacture of its products. That program includes:
Training product designers about ergonomics so that products are designed to be assembled, serviced in the field after sale, and disassembled easily.
The creation of an "ergonomics committee" comprised of members of the safety staff, medical staff and line workers and engineers. The committee discusses problems and solutions. The committee prompted the company to redesign its accident investigation form--the old form focused on traditional "instantaneous" injuries as opposed to ergonomics-related disorders.
Motorizing a section of the assembly process. This prevented employees from having to push heavy machines to a test area, and resulted in decreased instances of shoulder injuries in the area.
Conducting an annual ergonomic audit. The audit is conducted by committee members and departmental supervisors and requires detailed responses. Ergonomics corrective action is scheduled in order of priority based on the results of the audit.
The trans-implementation of ergonomics solutions from one production line to another. This process takes successful ergonomics strategies from one area of the plant and introduces the concept to other, similar areas. For instance, a staggered shelving system that enables employees to reach parts at a comfortable distance, without having to overextend, was first devised for one production line but then subsequently applied to several additional lines.
Continuing to emphasize the early reporting of possible ergonomic injuries by employees and focusing on return to work initiatives that emphasize on-site therapy and light duty work.
Because the company has always emphasized early injury reporting by its employees, it has not seen a dramatic drop in numbers of injuries. However, the company has seen significant decreases in both medical costs and time away from work as a result of its ergonomics program.
Source: Frederick M. Spina, Manager of Corporate Safety, Health & Loss Prevention, Pitney Bowes, January 2003.