Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Ergonomic improvements to bridge cranes

2007 — Health and Safety

Ergonomic improvements to bridge cranes

From the moment that the operation of bridge cranes was identified as one of the ten highest ergonomic risks to occupational health and safety (OHS) at the Baie-Comeau aluminum smelter, a multidisciplinary team set to work. The team was made up of ergonomics and health and safety leaders, representatives of the labour union and from engineering services, and four crane operators. The team quickly applied its collective pool of expertise to developing a prototype of a more user-friendly workstation.
The most severe ergonomic impacts were linked to issues of visibility and to the arrangement of the controls in relation to the operator's upper body (hands, arms, shoulders). Two bars in the center of the window cut the operator's field of vision into three, there was no arm support, and the controls were located far from the operator’s body. With 2,000 to 3,000 manipulations taking place during every 12-hour shift, it is no surprise that many operators developed shoulder pain.
Together with engineering firm Hatchand CROI, a supplier specialized in building industrial workstations, the team completely rebuilt the workstation. They made significant changes to the front windows and to some of the side windows, and added arm supports with integrated controls and an adjustable seat. In this project, teamwork made all the difference for the operators!