State: Georgia
Company: Duracell, LaGrange, Georgia
Industry: Alkaline Battery Manufacturing - SIC Code: 3691
Employees: 500
Success Brief:

The company's comprehensive ergonomics program has markedly decreased cumulative trauma disorders at the facility.

The Problem:

Cumulative trauma disorders ("CTDs") accounted for 35 percent of the facility's total recordable injuries and illnesses over a four-year period.

The Solution:

The company formed an ergonomics committee with the mission of identifying the causes of the CTDs and developing methods to reduce the CTD incident rate and the total number of accidents, both by 50 percent. The committee began by reviewing OSHA logs and other injury records and determining yearly CTD incident rates. Related cost data was also compiled and reviewed. The committee then developed, prioritized, and implemented recommended abatement measures. Improvements included automation of unloading and loading stations, work height adjustments (including "pallet pal" type systems), redesign of work stations, elimination of portable sanders, automatic box makers, anti-fatigue floor mats, rotation of jobs, and ergonomically designed chairs. In addition, the facility's occupational health nurse was trained on medical case management procedures for CTDs.

The company believes that a successful ergonomics program is an on-going process that must include management leadership, employee participation, job hazard analysis/control, and aggressive medical case management. As a proactive measure, the facility's Industrial Engineering Department recently performed an ergonomics survey of all production jobs in the plant and assigned a risk score to help on-going project assignment and problem solving. Ergonomics training is planned for the near future, and an "Ergonomic Task Force" has been commissioned to identify high-risk areas through a 5-year analysis of CTDs, employee complaints, and evaluations of risk factors.

The Impact:

As a result of the comprehensive ergonomics program, early reporting, and improved medical management, CTD incident rates were reduced by 90 percent, and the total accident rate was reduced by 81 percent.

  • Jill Hale, OHN and Tim Thurman, Duracell (April 2003)