Ergonomics: The Mazda Way

By LaBar, Gregg | Occupational Hazards, April 1990 | Go to article overview

Ergonomics: The Mazda Way


LaBar, Gregg, Occupational Hazards


ERGONOMICS: THE MAZDA WAY

In recent years, many manufacturers and their employees have become painfully aware of the ergonomic hazards posed by some assembly line processes. Improperly designed workstations, lines that move too fast, and ergonomically unsound work procedures can lead to such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and back injuries.

As Sarah Griffin, a physical therapist who works at Mazda Motor Mfg. (USA) Corp.'s (MMUC) Flat Rock site, notes, "The most efficient way of production is for each person to do the same thing over and over. But that's the worst thing for humans."

With this in mind, Mazda's safety and health team has made the reduction of ergonomic hazards a priority at the Flat Rock plant. The facility, which makes the Mazda MX-6, Mazda 626 sedan, and Ford Probe, hopes to show that maintaining a strong interest in ergonomics and producing 240,000 vehicles annually are compatible goals.

`From the Beginning'

Mazda's effort to improve the ergonomics of car manufacturing began in May 1985, with the start of construction on the Flat Rock facility southwest of Detroit. In designing the plant, Mazda's only one in the U.S., engineers had a luxury that they would not have enjoyed with an existing manufacturing facility: They were starting from scratch and thus had access to new technology that took into account the latest information on ergonomics.

"From the very beginning, ergonomics was a concern and was accepted as a legitimate safety issue," says Penny Morey, the plant's director of health, safety, training, and security.

For example, Mazda installed a tilt line in the trim and final shop to allow employees to work underneath cars without having to bend down, crawl into pits, or stretch their arms. The 30-degree angle of the tilt "brings the car to the person, instead of the other way around," explains safety and health specialist Joe Galusha, who coordinates the plant's ergonomics program.

To further reduce awkward bending and reaching motions, Mazda's overhead conveyor line was designed to move at different heights along the assembly process, depending on which part of the car is being worked on. Another design feature involves removing the doors midway through the process to make intricate work inside the car easier and more comfortable.

To reduce repetitive motion injuries to the upper extremities, Mazda installed adjustable racks that carry dashboard panels along the assembly line. One employee works on the front of the panel, attaching such things as the radio and the air duct assembly. Before the panel moves on to the next employee, who works on the back side, it is flipped around, so the second worker need not crawl behind the line or strain to reach the work area. In addition, robots were installed to do a lot of the welding and to install spare tires.

Ergonomics also played a role in Mazda's hiring deliberations when it initially picked its workforce. The company received about 100,000 applications for the 2,800 hourly jobs. Applicants were carefully screened over a six-month period to determine how healthy they were, how they behaved in groups, how they performed in a factory setting, how they viewed safety in the workplace, and how they responded to, and accepted, change (i.e. changes in the manufacturing process for ergonomic, quality, or production purposes).

In Need of a Program

Yet, despite the attention given to ergonomics in the early stages, Mazda's work in this area was far from finished. Once the plant began production in September 1987, with the first Mazda MX-6s rolling off the assembly line, additional concerns about ergonomics surfaced.

"Plants can't be perfect," Galusha says. "They continually change with every new person and every new day. No initial setup can be so good that you can anticipate all of the problems. You still need a structure to handle ergonomics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ergonomics: The Mazda Way
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.