As I tour a manufacturing facility, I am in awe at the care taken in the design of the production process flow. Resin stored outside is piped into each machine through an elaborate web of piping, the machines have varied degrees of automation, and the floor plan is strategically designed for optimal productivity and efficiency. My tour guide shows pride in the design and care taken, the automation, and the complexity of the manufacturing workflow. The final steps in the manufacturing process involve humans ... aka employees. They are in repetitive motion jobs with physically demanding work and long shifts (10 -12 hours) on their feet.
After the tour, the team gathers at a board to review each machine's current “uptime” and availability to meet today’s production needs. The fear of lost productivity is real. Each year in the US, manufacturers lose an estimated $50B in lost productivity due to unplanned downtime. A team of machine maintenance employees is focused on uptime and break fixes because it is so critical to keep the machines running. These employees are essential in the manufacturing process yet are an often-overlooked component of the “uptime” discussion.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), employee “downtime” due to lost productivity is estimated at $150B with presenteeism and absenteeism combined. And the Institute of Medicine reports that workers’ compensation claims for MSK -related work injuries are between $45B -$55B annually. Abrupt changes in available staffing in labor-intensive industries create bottlenecks, lost productivity, and an internal scrambling to juggle resources and meet deadlines. This scenario may mean longer shifts for some employees, increasing the risk of injuries.
The key component for a strong foundation is prevention. Creating a “well-oiled” manufacturing or distribution environment starts with ensuring production uptime of all process components- both people and machines. Some foundational components to address the human element are:
Understanding the physical demands of the job. Performing functional job analysis (FJA) and creating Functional Job Descriptions (FJD)
Implement a Post Offer Employment Test (POET) utilizing FJDs to ensure the candidate is physically able to do the job.
Invest in a Managed MSK onsite clinic to design, deliver and manage to create a solid foundation of employee health. Staffed with a highly trained provider (PT, OT, ATC) and managed by a team of experts, some aspects include: o Catching aches and pains before they turn into injuries o Onboarding and conditioning new hires o Job coaching and workplace modifications o Trusted resource to employees on MSK and wellness o Proactive programs, warm-ups, micro-breaking, and toolbox talks that have lasting results due to the onsite presence. o Small footprint and investment with a significant impact
Yes, it requires spending a little time and money but think about the long term in effectively, safely, and efficiently keeping people healthy and on the job. Investing in machines andpeople builds a solid foundation for a productive and safe work environment.