USA - 2011
Ergo-Blitzes Reduce Recordable Injuries at Davenport Works
Using the principles and tools of the Alcoa Business System (ABS), Alcoa Davenport Works in Iowa reduced the number of employees experiencing a recordable injury related to ergonomic risk factors from 36 in 2008 to nine in 2010—a 75% reduction.
The average age of the workforce, which is around 40, plus the physical demands of producing fabricated aluminum products contributed to Davenport’s high rate of ergonomic incidents. In October 2006, the plant began using an ABS tool called a kaizen (rapid improvement) event to identify and eliminate ergonomic risks. Those two-day events have since evolved into four-hour ergo-blitzes that involve approximately five employees and focus on a specific task identified to have ergonomic risks.
During an ergo-blitz, participants first receive training on ABS and ergonomics. They next go to the production floor to observe the selected task and then identify ways to eliminate the risk using trial and error. By the end of the four hours, the risk will be eliminated or activities will be initiated to eliminate it within 30 days.
Each department at Davenport is required to complete two ergo-blitzes per quarter. In 2010, the plant’s employees completed a total of 47 blitzes, with many involving simple, low-cost solutions.
For example, one ergo-blitz involved a loading dock that is 76 centimeters (30 inches) off the ground with metal guarding that employees had to move each time a truck arrived at the dock. To eliminate the need for employees to lift the 11-kilogram (25-pound) guarding, the ergo-blitz team installed permanent guarding that uses posts with chains that are unhooked.
In another department, a maintenance employee had to lift a 43-kilogram (95-pound) steel piece repeatedly during equipment changes. Following an ergo-blitz, a 35-pound aluminum piece was developed to replace the heavier steel version.
Davenport’s ergonomic incidents have been on a steady decline since the kaizen events and ergo-blitzes were introduced in 2008, helping reduce the location’s total recordable incident rate from 1.56 in 2008 to 0.49 in 2010. In addition, the ergo-blitz process increased employee awareness of ergonomic risk factors and reduced these risks in the workplace.