Anyone who has worked a physical labor job will sympathize with General Motors employees who work on the automaker’s various U.S. assembly lines. Back and joint problems have been known to plague automotive assembly line workers both new and old, but GM is looking to remedy the widespread problem.
A couple of years ago, the automaker started bringing Work-Fit trainers to some of its American assembly plants. The trainers will walk the assembly line daily and watch how workers lift heavy objects, squat and bend over. They will then teach them a better, more ergonomic ways to perform their various tasks, helping to prevent worker fatigue and injury. Work-Fit trainers are currently embedded in six of the automaker’s U.S. plants, including Lansing Delta Township, Wentzville Assembly, Fort Wayne Assembly, Fairfax Assembly, Arlington Assembly and Flint Assembly.
In a recent interview with The Detroit Free Press, U.S. Safety group manager at GM, Matt Sedlarik, said the automaker saw a steep reduction in workplace injuries from 2017 through to 2019. He credits the improvement to the Work-Fit program, as well as increased attention from GM toward injury awareness and prevention.
“We try to get the employees to think of themselves as industrial athletes,”Sedlarik told the newspaper. “You could take Lebron James, put him on the production floor and after eight hours his body is going to be sore. Same with our employees. If we can get a trainer to work with them on ways to prevent soreness and sprains, we will.”
It’s in GM’s best interest to try and prevent workplace injuries. Injuries can negatively affect worker productivity and are also extremely costly, with the automaker paying out large sums for worker injury compensation. GM does not disclose how much it spends on worker injury compensation each year, but an expert The Detroit Free Press spoke to believes the figure is significant. Injured employees also need to be replaced, which can prove costly for GM, as well.
“The injured employee is not there and we have to re-train somebody else,” said Sedlarik. “That would be three-to-four times the direct cost.”
Source: The Detroit Free Press