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Southwire’s Kentucky Plant Sees Reduction in WMSDs with Humantech’s RAPID Team Events®

In 2012, employee sprains and strains led the Southwire Company, LLC, one of the world’s leading producers of wire and cable used to transmit power, to take a more in-depth look at making ergonomic improvements in the workplace. While some progress had been made, the process was fairly informal and slow-moving.

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If you give the employees the ownership, the training, and the resources to make the fixes, they won’t let you down. After all, they are the ones who do these jobs, day in and day out.

Ryan Goad, Site Safety Manager - Southwire

In early 2013, Southwire enlisted Humantech to facilitate a series of RAPID Team Events—multi-day, multi-disciplinary events focusing on making quick, simple, and visible changes to improve ergonomics in the workplace, starting with the Hawesville, Kentucky facility. During the RAPID Team Event, five different operations were assessed, resulting in 30 identified issues and 24 completed fixes. “The great thing about it,” says Site Safety Manager Ryan Goad, “was that we saw immediate results. I knew we had something pretty special when I saw other operators coming up to our team to make suggestions and get involved.” Goad notes that major accomplishments since the event have been the weight reduction in tools, parts, and equipment, and the implementation of a new lifting policy. The Southwire plant maintains momentum for continuous improvement through a process called “OPS Rounds.” All of the teams are trained in ergonomics and Goad notes that many of their projects overlap, which is a good thing.

By 2014, the plant experienced a 30% reduction in strains and sprains and almost a 40% reduction in back injuries.  Over 100 ergonomic improvements have been implemented, with another 40 in process. Goad says that the site plans to continue its ergonomics rounds with a focus on reducing awkward reaches and further reducing tool and equipment weight.