Original Date: 08/07/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Ergonomic Tooling/Manufacturing
Since its inception over three years ago, the Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (LMTAS) ergonomics initiative has undergone several phases. Originally chartered to reduce cumulative trauma injuries, the Ergonomic Organization reviewed factory processes, and those tasks that surpassed human capabilities were found to directly correlate to cumulative trauma. Working with the factory floor personnel, these identified tasks were changed by either altering the existing processes or by procuring ergonomically designed tools that reduced the cumulative trauma potential.
The Ergonomic Engineering organization takes a proactive role in reducing trauma injuries by working with LMTAS’ Manufacturing Engineering Organization to identify new tasks that may have the potential of producing injuries. To provide Manufacturing Engineering with a better understanding of potential injury-related processes, LMTAS sent 17 Manufacturing Engineers and Ergonomics Engineers to an in-house Texas Tech University sponsored course on Advanced Ergonomic Engineering design. LMTAS’ commitment to ergonomics has been reinforced by the Organization’s action of budgeting $1.05M through 1995.
To assist the local medical community in understanding the processes that the factory floor personnel perform daily, physicians were also invited into the factory. This method not only provided physicians with knowledge of how the injuries occurred, but allowed them to develop a recovery plan for employees. This medical open house benefitted everyone involved -- the employee by assisting with treatment, the physician by gaining a better understanding of the source of the injury and what portion of the body is affected, and LMTAS by returning the employees to work on an average of two months earlier than the norm.
Through LMTAS’ efforts to reduce cumulative trauma injuries and the company’s capital investment, several monetary savings were realized in conjunction with employees’ health and welfare. Workman’s compensation cost- per-100-employees was reduced 20% from 1992 to 1994; the cost per claim was reduced 50%; and the lost work day incidence rate was reduced by 43%. The application of ergonomic principles in the design phase will have the greatest impact on productivity, quality, and safety.
LMTAS also determined several lessons learned from its ergonomic effort, including:
Ergonomic design principles provide the language to design engineering of the human requirements for performing company processes.
If human capabilities are not defined at the beginning (early in the design phase), failures occur in productivity, quality, and safety.
The development of all processes and design of all workplaces should follow ergonomic design principles.
With ergonomic considerations implemented in the design phase of a project, employee suffering, costs of indemnity payments, product costs and schedule, medical payments, and ultimately the product user (customer) benefit in a win-win situation.
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