Headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, Tenneco is one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers, and marketers of clean air and ride performance products and systems for the automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment markets and the aftermarket.
In addition to manufacturing, Tenneco’s 31,000 employees focus on the health and safety of the company’s customers, communities, and each other. It’s no surprise that health and safety is one of the company’s core values. The company’s commitment to maintaining a safe work environment is why Tenneco, with the help of Humantech, began implementing an ergonomics process in 1996.
“Getting management support to initiate and launch an ergonomics process was not hard, since our injury and workers’ compensation costs were affecting our bottom line,” says Frans Bentlage, manager of safety and health. “Fixing simple jobs that require little to no cost was easy, but when it comes to major projects with design changes, more time is needed to convince management to fund them,” he says.
Data speaks to management. Humantech’s software as a service, The Humantech System, comes with a robust database with a return-on-investment report. “The outputs help confirm that the project will not only reduce risk exposures but will also improve productivity,” says Bentlage. The Humantech System also includes online training modules, assessment tools, and on-site workshops.
In 2012, just as The Humantech System made its debut, Tenneco determined it needed support to expand its ergonomics process outside of North America. “When we launched The Humantech System, we identified an ergonomics coordinator at each site and charged them with forming an ergonomics team, including members from engineering, production, and maintenance, to drive, monitor, and sustain the process,” says Bentlage.
“The on-site workshops are what made us successful in launching and expanding our ergonomics process outside North America,” says Tim Gordon, corporate director of environmental health and safety. “What also helped was that our team members could maintain their competencies by revisiting the online courses to refresh their skills.”
During the workshops, the team focused on performing risk assessments at each workstation, prioritizing jobs, establishing goals to implement solutions, and fixing jobs.
The teams were then able to share their metrics and key learnings across global sites through The Humantech System by uploading photos, drawings, videos, and “before” and “after” examples. Communication among the teams also improved significantly as The Humantech System became available in multiple languages.
Since 1996, Tenneco’s total recordable incident rate in North America dropped from 7.3 to 1.5—an 80 percent reduction. At least half of this reduction is attributed to a reduction in MSD risk due to ergonomics initiatives. The company recently renewed its enterprise license of The Humantech System. “Currently, 87 plants use The Humantech System worldwide and we are continuing to add sites each year,” says Bentlage.