Parker Hannifin Employees Change the Future with Ergonomics
Parker Hannifin is a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of industrial and aerospace markets. With locations in 50 countries and over 300 manufacturing sites globally, one of the company’s primary goals is to achieve zero injuries across the organization. In an enterprise-wide effort, Parker team members recognized an opportunity to increase safety performance with better ergonomics.
“Implementing ergonomics improvements creates a better daily experience for our team members. It also engages them to address risk across the company,” says Martha Connell, Director, Environmental, Health & Safety.
Employee engagement in ergonomics begins with an investment from leadership, and providing ergonomics training to its employees was Parker’s first strategy. When employees know what is expected of them and understand how to perform their jobs well, they are more confident to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal. As a result, both individual and business performance improves.
Knowledge drives action
Starting in 2012, the company began its movement to drive down injuries by hosting Applied Industrial Ergonomics workshops, led by board-certified ergonomists from Humantech. Parker employees from around the world traveled to nearby facilities in Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the United States to learn how to implement ergonomics initiatives correctly. Through classroom instruction and hands-on, shop-floor workshops, teams learned how to identify and prioritize jobs that posed a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders, quantify risks using Humantech tools, and make job improvements.
When the company transitioned to The Humantech System® in 2017, the leadership team took advantage of the online training modules and required that they be completed by employees outside of traditional “ergonomics” roles. This new-found knowledge spurred employees to improve their own workstations. “It helped our employees take ownership. They can easily identify and resolve issues that directly impact them,” says Connell. “The illustrations of awkward body postures and corresponding terms in the Ergonomics Hit List® make people stop and think about the way they work,” says European EHS Manager Sara Moore.
In addition, the modular structure of the curriculum enabled Parker to provide role-specific training and create cross-functional ergonomics teams, which include members from safety and engineering to maintenance and shop-floor employees. The robust curriculum is made up of several, short online courses, which equip employees with the knowledge and tools to identity, assess, and fix high-risk jobs. Through the training, knowledge is transferred, ergonomics teams are formed, and the job improvement process begins.
Visibility drives implementation
When the company learned how to quantify risks, the results were sometimes surprising. “A few times we thought the risk was in one area. It wasn’t until we completed an assessment that we realized we were focusing on the wrong thing,” says Moore. “The data showed us where we were and where we needed to go,” says Connell. Parker’s business case to accelerate the implementation of its ergonomics process at 300+ locations was built on data indicating which jobs posed the highest risk of injury. Fixing problems before they occur is efficiency at its best—or changing the future!
Scalability drives growth
Sustaining any business process enterprise-wide comes with unique challenges, especially because teams are at different stages of the process.
“The Humantech System’s simple interface and reports are good for plants just getting started, and the comprehensive assessments and design criteria help our plants with more advanced ergonomics processes to sustain their initiatives,” says Moore.
“We are pleased that many of our teams are now engaged in ergonomics. Over the last few years, the tool has helped our employees understand ergonomics and how it affects safety, productivity, quality, and other business aspects,” says Connell.
By the numbers
Since deploying The Humantech System,
- over 700 employees have completed online training modules, excluding those who attended in-person trainings.
- more than 1,400 users across 440 Parker locations have conducted over 2,800 ergonomics assessments.
- nearly 800 improvements have been implemented and another 4,000+ are in the works.
As outlined in its 2017 Sustainability Report, the company’s Recordable Incident Rate has dropped by 54 percent since 2014, including a 22 percent reduction in fiscal year 2017.