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Success with Ergonomics
International Truck and Engine Corporation

 
State: Ohio
   
Company: International Truck and Engine Corporation
  Springfield, Ohio Assembly Plant
   
Industry: Motor vehicle and passenger car bodies - SIC Code: 3711
   
Employees: 2500

 
Success Brief: The redesign of workstation layouts, improvement of racking and storage, and reevaluation and replacement of certain tools led to a significant decrease in incident frequencies and lost time cases caused by musculoskeletal disorders.
 

The Problem
 
Four years before it launched a new series of trucks at its Springfield Assembly Plant, International Truck and Engine set goals to decrease or eliminate ergonomic risks and other potential problems associated with production, while at the same time increasing the facility's productivity and efficiency.

The Solution
 
Before the launch of the new product line, management, production employees and safety and health representatives worked together in teams to redesign the workspaces. The employees raised concerns during workshops involving cross-functional teams that included skilled trades employees, line supervisors, maintenance supervisors, safety and ergonomics representatives, upper management representatives, and production line employees. During the workshops, the team members learned about ergonomic risk factors, the importance of workplace organization and set up, and various safety procedures to be used in their workplace. As part of the redesign, the company:
  • Installed lift and tilt tables so that employees could adjust the workstation height as needed, which reduced incidents of shoulder and back strains and sprains;
  • Hung and balanced all tools overhead, raised air hoses off the floor, and replaced pistol-grip tools with inline tools, which reduced wrist and elbow injuries and eliminated trip and fall hazards;
  • Redesigned flow-through racks to incorporate adjustable shelf heights so that employees of various heights could keep parts on racks within an employee's own personal "strike zone" for improved lifting;
  • Altered the radiator assembly line to improve the employees' access to the radiator under assembly by installing variable height running boards and a "kick lever" to allow rotation of the radiator as needed by the assembly line employees;
  • Standardized the containers, rack design, and stock positioning so that heavier items were carried the shortest distance and smaller parts were placed in standardized totes on rolling racks that allow for employee adjustment, depending on the employee's needs.

The Impact
 
By involving employees in the redesign process, the company was able to utilize the employees' own expertise in their work area to design workstations that resulted in a significant reduction in the frequency of injuries and in cases resulting in lost work time. This has led to an increase in job satisfaction, greater productivity and a decrease in workplace hazards.

 
Source: Occupational Health & Safety, Volume 71, Issue 9, Sept. 1. 2002. Updated, Subhash C. Vaidya, Navistar International Corporation, October 2002.
 
 
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