Jack Link’s Uses Data to Drive the Ergonomics Improvement Process
When Jack Link’s rolls out the red carpet for its newest product, mouths water. It was from the love of a family recipe that the desire for this beef jerky spread beyond the small northeast corner of Wisconsin. More than 100 years later, Jack Link’s offers over 100 different meat snacks in more than 40 countries.
- Food & Beverage
- The Humantech System
From these reports, we know what to fix first and what will give us the biggest bang for our buck. This is what management needs to see to make decisions.Nancy Devine, Risk Manager and Safety Director
“The world loves to snack. So, if everyone is eating them, they’d better be good,” says Risk Manager and Safety Director Nancy Devine. Making lip-smacking snacks and doing it safely is what they do. “The first time I walked onto the production floor, I was surprised at how manual it is to make jerky,” reports Devine. Adding spices, handling product on and off the conveyor systems, stacking pallets, order picking, packing, and the sanitation jobs were all tasks that could put a worker at risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder. “We want our team members to do these jobs with the least amount of stress to their bodies. We take the quality of our products and the safety of our team very seriously,” says Devine.
In 2015, the company partnered with Humantech to launch The Humantech System®, a web-based ergonomics management and training tool for manufacturing and industrial environments. To introduce it, a Humantech certified professional ergonomist conducted “Kickoff Leadership Workshops.” The focus was to integrate the right strategic elements into its current business process, establish proactive goals, select metrics to drive them toward the goals, establish resources, and set checkpoints during the process to stay on track.
The Humantech System was first implemented at the Underwood, Iowa Distribution Center and the Minong, Wisconsin plant. Ergonomics team members were required to complete the online training modules which introduced them to ergonomics principles and musculoskeletal disorders. They also learned how to recognize jobs that pose a risk for injury and develop solutions to reduce that risk. This knowledge engaged them in the process and empowered them to begin improving jobs.
Working together, team members used The Humantech System to assess jobs and determine a risk priority score for each. Along with a score, the System generates a simple image of the human body with color-coding depicting the level of risk (low, moderate, high) to specific body parts. “From these reports, we know what to fix first and what will give us the biggest bang for our buck,” says Devine. “This is what management needs to see to make decisions,” she adds.
“After an improvement is made, we can compare the before and after scores (and photos), and ultimately see the success of each improvement. These visuals were part of our business case for the introduction of equipment and automation processes to eliminate risk altogether. I would never use a program that couldn’t do that,” says Devine.
Understanding the numbers is the first step in any process. Here’s what they found:
- 40% of employee injuries were musculoskeletal disorders.
- These injuries were the second most costly.
- Tasks that posed the most risk were packaging (risk to the upper extremities and shoulders), processing, and moving carts (risk to the back and shoulders).
Since 2015, the company has implemented The Humantech System at seven sites, completed nearly 650 e-learning modules and 391 job assessments, and has made 291 improvements, with more in process.