Worthington Cylinders

Worker safety poster hanging at Worthington Cylinders facility.

The hand assembly of torches, torch kits and related accessories at Worthington Cylinders frequently involved small parts and quick cycle times. Ergonomics issues were the culprit of most employee injuries, with strains and sprains costing the company an average $11,000 per case. Worthington’s ergonomics committee attempted to improve safety, but was stalled by a complex workstation assessment tool. To develop an easy-to-use application and deepen workforce understanding of ergonomics, Worthington found engineering help at UB and funding assistance from the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) grant.

The Approach

  • Evaluated Worthington’s Postural Risk Assessment Tool to ensure that key unique risk factors were systematically identified
  • Developed a tool to analyze the hazard level of each of the nearly 200 workstations
  • Empowered the 150-person workforce to solve basic ergonomics challenges through awareness training
  • Trained 20 ergonomics committee members and engineers to identify problems and develop low-cost engineering controls
  • Attuned 5 engineers to the importance of ergonomics and anthropometry when designing workstations
  • Examined shortcomings of the plant’s “flex and stretch” exercise activities

The Impact

  • Shortened the time to complete an ergonomics assessment from more than one hour to an average of 15 to 20 minutes, a result of a simplified process
  • Decreased risk for injury by implementing new job rotation practices
  • Refocused priority on solving all ergonomics-related issues, rather than placing the majority of efforts solely on the most severe
  • Generated valid employee feedback by instituting a suggestion program, whereby the committee reviewed ergonomics concerns and proposals before devising solutions
  • Improved the plant’s “flex and stretch” exercises for injury prevention by identifying appropriate stretches for each workstation and posting instructions for correct stretching