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ZF Industries Inc.

Ergonomically based job assignment employee rotation process

ZF Industries, Inc., Tuscaloosa Plant, has taken a disciplined and scientific approach to reducing the number and severity of disorders related to repetitive and other work motions, leading to a 90% reduction of OSHA Recordable Incidents and 83% reduction of Workman’s Compensation Costs in the ZF-Tuscaloosa workplace.

The system analyzes individual motions involved in plant tasks and determines stresses on workers’ bodies. This leads to a numerical “Body Parts Index” (BPSI) that is used to rank motions relative to their potential for inflicting physical damage on the worker. A worker with stress-related injury may then have his job assignment shifted away from the stress-inducing task, or to a quantified lower level of activity to meet a medical restriction.

In creating this tool, ZF-Tuscaloosa has given all the stakeholders with a concern for plant health and safety (medical doctor, plant manager, plant supervisor, plant employee and plant manufacturing engineer) an agreed upon, objective way to communicate and plan work level to protect health. Further, application of the ZF system also identifies which tasks should have their production processes reengineered. Finally, the process includes an on-going audit to ensure it is being followed and improved continuously.

Any manufacturing process involving repetitive motions or the potential for stress-related injuries should benefit from applying the BPSI concept. A reduction in lost time and an improvement in productivity should result.

This innovation was created by ZF-Tuscaloosa personnel. They enlisted support from the Alabama State Center for Occupational Health, and Auburn Engineers, Inc., an ergonomics engineering firm. Their primary customer, Mercedes-Benz, has also adopted this procedure in their Vance, Alabama production plant.