Toro Creates a Sustainable Ergonomics Process
With more than $2 billion in annual sales and 5000 employees worldwide, The Toro Company is a leading provider of solutions for the outdoor environment including turf, snow, and ground engaging equipment, and irrigation and lighting solutions.
Tom Hawkinson has been Toro’s global EHS Manager for more than a decade. Realizing that Toro’s work force was aging and that 35% of the company’s injuries were related to MSD (musculoskeletal disorder) risk, he knew that a full-scale ergonomics initiative tied in with the company’s lean process was essential. “All lean initiatives should include ergonomic assessment to assure that the changes generating lean benefits do not present increased ergonomic risk,” he explains.
In 2014, Hawkinson and his team began to roll out The Humantech System® in four of the company’s assembly and sub-assembly plants where MSD risk was considered to be most prevalent. The Humantech System includes e-learning, on-site workshops led by Humantech’s certified ergonomists, and data management tools that can be operated on a tablet. For Hawkinson, the online educational elements in The Humantech System helped both new leaders and new team members to get up to speed quickly. He adds, “The reporting tools allow us to track meaningful leading indicators of ergonomic risk, and identify system gaps before they become liabilities.”
Hawkinson notes that The Humantech System has given Toro’s ergonomics process “the gift of inherent sustainability.” He says the all-in-one solution “makes ergonomic analysis, improvement, and documentation part of the overall manufacturing system, rather than an orphaned program in some dark corner of the engineering office.”
The blended-learning model of The Humantech System (combining e-learning with hands-on workshops) has made big impact at the Toro sites. With the previous traditional two-day classroom training, site employees would typically complete three to four job assessments. Now they are able to complete 18 to 20 assessments in the same amount of time. Hawkinson adds, “We have seen significant improvements in our operations and continue to see success stories as the ergonomics process becomes integrated into the engineering function.”