Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Ergonomics: Many hands make light work and safe workers

Ergonomics program assembles teams to tackle high-risk jobs, cutting claims in half.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
January 01, 2013

Ceradyne, a manufacturer of advanced technical ceramics, wanted to improve working conditions for its employees. With the help of a workplace ergonomics consulting firm (Humantech, humantech.com) the company was able to obtain management approval, train its employees in how to conduct risk assessments and downgrade high-risk jobs to low- or no-risk jobs. As a result, workers’ compensation costs have been reduced by 98% since 2010.

Prior to 2010, Ceradyne had spent millions of dollars addressing ergonomics injuries. “Our main issue was that we did not have a plan, structure, or approach for conducting ergonomics risk assessments,” says Tony Ewing, EHS director of the North American division. 

Obtaining management approval to implement a program at all 12 North American sites was the first hurdle. After Ewing built the cost-justification case, he worked with the supplier to develop a strategy and a detailed plan.

The program was initially rolled out at the company’s larger plants. Each plant assembled a team of 10 to 12 employees, supervisors and maintenance leads. “I wanted to get employees involved, get them doing risk assessments, and give them the tools they needed to fix their jobs,” says Ewing.

The supplier trained the entire team over the course of a week. After being trained to identify risk postures, the teams noticed that some work tables were too high. A series of platforms raised workers to a more comfortable height, improving ergonomics and product quality. Workers had also been retrieving materials from the floor before lift and tilt tables were installed to reduce bending and twisting motions. Among the most strenuous tasks was the process of scooping material in 50- to 60-pound buckets, then manually carrying two at a time through tight corners of the facility before lifting and dumping them into a hopper.

“There were lots of opportunities for scrapes and strains,” said Ewing, who described the scissor lift-equipped carts that now transport the buckets. “One of the team members recommended a tipping device that empties buckets into the hopper, and it’s made a huge difference.”

Since 2010, Ceradyne’s recordable injuries have been reduced by 43%, white workers’ compensation claims and costs have dropped 51% and 98%, respectively. Ceradyne plans to roll out the program across all 12 of its North American plants.

About the Author

image
Josh Bond
Senior Editor

Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The PMI, the ISM’s index to measure growth fell 0.8 percent to 52.7 (a PMI of 50 or greater represents growth). PMI growth has been at 50 or higher for 31 straight months (with the overall economy growing for 74 months), and the current PMI is 1.7 percent below the 12-month average of 54.4.

Through acquisition of UniCarriers, MHI and Mitsubishi Nichiyu Forklift will achieve a full lineup of product offerings giving them greater response capacity to customers’ diverse needs.

his acquisition is part of OMRON’s strategy to promote its development of factory automation technology and strengthen its sales capability in the control device business.

In light of the growth of e-commerce-and the fact that consumers and businesses are buying again, many of the discussions that we had at ProMat 2015 didn't revolve around the products and the equipment on display as much as it did the supplemental technology and solutions that are designed to optimize systems in an effort to work "smarter."

The new name better represents how the company strategically partners with customers on lifecycle planning to maximize return on investment.



© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA