Helping to Eliminate Ergonomic Risks

Helping to Eliminate Ergonomic Risks

Caterpillar assembles generator sets for marine and petroleum applications in Piracicaba, Brazil. Assembly processes that include awkward postures for our employees can lead to an increased risk of ergonomic injury, decreased employee engagement and reduction in productivity. Recognizing this, the Piracicaba facility convened a team of leaders from Environment, Health & Safety, Manufacturing Engineering, Logistics Planning and Production areas to evaluate the ergonomic risk of the assembly process, particularly focused on awkward postures.

The team conducted a Safety Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) of 88 standard work procedures and identified 43 ergonomic risks related to awkward postures. Each of these was further assessed using Caterpillar’s standard ergonomic assessment tools for prioritization, with 17 work procedures prioritized for mitigation.

The solutions for these 17 work procedures ranged from simple changes in procedure to complex solutions for improvements. Now, steps that previously required an extended crouched or bent position are completed on a platform in a seated position; a permanent cart was manufactured to eliminate the need for an employee to perform a repeated bending task; and the shop floor layout was redesigned to include a conveyor for transporting parts with plenty of employee access, eliminating a manual operation. With the successful mitigation of these high priority ergonomic risks, the team has now turned to medium priority ergonomic risks.