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page=2 Proactive Ergonomics
Progressive programs at Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Biogen Idec are raising the bar for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
BY BARBARA F. TAYLOR, CIH, DIRECTOR OF EHS, BIOGEN IDEC, AND RACHEL MICHAEL, M.SC., AEP, ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT, MARSH RISK CONSULTING

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As technology and automation transform pharmaceutical manufacturing, the human factor is often overlooked. New production equipment and manufacturing spaces may be cramped or inadequately designed, while work schedules and operating procedures often fail to consider workers¶ physical needs and limitations. A common example of a mismatch between Installing standing platforms and adjustable-height isolators can make human abilities and equipment suitable for workers of all sizes. Photo courtesy of task design is when employees sit parallel AstraZeneca. to a filling or packaging line, instead of facing it. This position is usually taken because there isn¶t enough knee and leg space under the machinery, but sitting parallel to equipment results in twisting

and might include reducing the weight of objects. Key MSD risk factors include: y y y y y y force awkward posture repetition duration vibration contact stress All of these risks are commonplace in pharmaceutical manufacturing. They include clear goals. Good ergonomics foundations Successful ergonomics programs are systematic and sustainable. and may affect the bottom line. as a good business decision. and improving maintenance for tools and work areas. it must be viewed. Engineering controls involve a change in the physical features of the workplace. Ergonomics prevents situations like these. U. More sophisticated workplace ergonomics programs share the following characteristics: y y y y y management commitment and support extensive training on risk factors and ergonomics hazard analysis and control strong medical management regular program evaluation If any ergonomics program is to succeed. morale and product quality.S. regulatory requirements for ergonomics are generally limited to the General Duty Clause.´ The industry is moving from a reactive to proactive stance towards ergonomics. ³Today. from top to bottom. by evaluating worker abilities and limitations and taking them into account in designs. ergonomics programs are recognized as a best practice by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). focus on risk. increasing the likelihood of stress or musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). When engineering solutions are not feasible. we¶re getting our engineers to think about human factors during the design stage. by reducing productivity. administrative controls are used. Except for a few state OSHA programs. Ergonomics programs that operate as ³one-off´ fixes or grassroots initiatives fail to change the manufacturing culture. ³We used to be focused on training employees just to be aware of ergonomic issues. These controls are less effective than engineering controls because they don¶t eliminate the hazard. They must be measurable. and put in writing. They include longer rest breaks. site. the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The preferred method for controlling risk factors is through engineering controls. and other organizations. . ergonomics team leader at Pfizer Global Manufacturing¶s Kalamazoo.and reaching. and are integrated into existing processes and operations. Patterson says. Mich. below). visible and focused on continuous improvement.´ says Robb Patterson. More manufacturers today recognize the importance of integrating proactive ergonomic solutions into their business processes (see BEST PRACTICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. using more employees to perform lifting or certain tasks. changing work surface heights or purchasing lifting aids.

Biogen Idec implemented a full-blown ergonomics program after it realized that most of its workers¶ compensation costs stemmed from poor ergonomics. are also used. inspectors sat parallel to the pace belt and had to reach over the work area to grab product off the belt.e.Work practice controls such as personal protective equipment (PPE). allowing workers to stand or sit at preferred heights. purchases and personnel hires. but are the least effective methods. Photo courtesy of Pfizer. to about 6 in. Employees at Pfizer¶s Kalamazoo site inspect and pack Gelfoam sponges. Stations and chairs are also adjustable. since the employee is still exposed to the risk factor. workstations are perpendicular to the belt. Biogen Idec has gone beyond minimum recommendations ² i. Laboratory and Manufacturing areas. Key to the program. After a redesign (above). which has reduced worker reaches from 24 in. Photo courtesy of Pfizer. While regulations in specific countries or states may direct some aspects of the program. An Ergonomics Steering Committee identifies and addresses current issues in ergonomics and heads off future problems by making ergonomic principles a part of new projects. Ergonomics at Biogen Several years ago. It also provides for ergonomics teams made up of plant workers and safety professionals to address specific ergonomics issues that arise. . is a written corporate policy that explicitly correlates ergonomics with the company¶s core values of worker safety and a high quality of work life. modeled after NIOSH and OSHA recommendations. Previously (above). used for dental surgery. simply documenting a written program ² to create a Global Ergonomics Guideline for Office.. Workers are encouraged to contact designated experts in their global regions.

Health and Environment (SHE) Group in Sweden. Biogen trains employees when they are hired on workstation requirements and hazards. ³Even if you have a blueprint or 3-D computer model. Sweden. and to participate actively in creating viable solutions. after blueprinting and equipment purchases. has influenced other AstraZeneca facilities. equipment use. and yearly or halfyearly after startup. allowing managers to identify problem areas and implement changes. employees use ³body maps. and share best practices worldwide. The system not only records all transactions and keeps an ongoing history of projects. plant and design engineers have become accustomed to the Steering Committee¶s input and now often address ergonomics issues on their own. Kipping says. BEST PRACTICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD AstraZeneca: Ergopasses and Body Maps Ergonomics have always been high on the agenda at AstraZeneca. The Sodertalje site has instituted the ³Ergopass. The company has found that technology is an excellent way to sustain ergonomics at individual sites. says Jan-Anders Kipping. the steering committee¶s goal is to ask the right questions: How much would that filter weigh when full? How do you propose to move it? Over time and with many successes achieved. are recorded. accessibility and other aspects key to design based on a careful review with the end users and the design team.Where most companies still wait until after an injury has been reported to evaluate a manufacturing area or workstation. A culture has taken root that encourages all employees to report incidents and near misses. where physiotherapists or SHE professionals are commonly found within plants. Biogen has addressed this issue by creating an electronic system to record and manage all ergonomics concerns and requests for workstation evaluations. and even lawsuits. an occupational hygienist who heads up the ergonomics program within AstraZeneca¶s Global Safety. Summary body maps are then compiled for specific jobs and working environments. job procedures and physical needs.´ onto which they mark areas of personal discomfort or pain. France. Working heights or materials loading procedures may have to be modified. Welcoming informed workers In working with engineers. Manufacturers often express concern that educating workers in risk factor identification and prevention will produce a barrage of complaints.´ Kipping says. reaches. the Ergonomics Steering Committee reviews design plans and equipment for potential risk factors and provides input into heights. . AstraZeneca evaluates ergonomics and conducts risk assessments for a new site or production line in three stages ² in the concept stage.´ a pamphlet into which employees¶ ergonomics data. it¶s not the same as when an operator is standing there. In Reims. but also provides immediate employee feedback and the amount of time that corrective action will take. During renovation or relocation.

Today.´ says Robb Patterson.´ Kipping says. Height-adjustable equipment and chairs are being used to ensure that operators are able to perform all work within a 12. the two continue to share ideas at regular meetings. The Puerto Rico Occupational Safety and Health Office (PR OSHO) is now also involved. and the agency was receptive. In 2002. a clotting agent for dental surgery.Y. Kalamazoo strives to get all workers involved in ergonomics. Ergonomics interventions have decreased the risk of injury and have improved the site¶s safety metrics. ergonomics requirements are part of the capital approval process. and 50 kilos for larger machines.´ Pfizer: Old Sites. he says.S. No tablet pack is heavier than 10 kilograms for smaller machines. the U. New Practices At Pfizer Global Manufacturing¶s Kalamazoo site. N. and to share its best practices with regulators and industry. These methods are integral to employee training and development programs. productivity and worker satisfaction. When an ergonomics-related issue arises. And without question. they are willing to listen. Global Integration at J&J With 120 sites worldwide. does not have standardized regulations for ergonomics.AstraZeneca¶s Asset Strategy for Packing (ASPac) team has undertaken a Bulk Tablet Container Project in order to share best practices and develop global standards. Patterson says. ergonomics ³focus teams´ comprising four to six plant-floor employees are put together to brainstorm immediate improvements. Information from these checklists is input into a database that measures overall employee compliance with site ergonomics standards. ³Standardization is a way to force people to use lifting equipment. ³but when they have ergonomic problems.´ Examples of this include automating end-of-line processes and purchasing new cartoners. envelope. The partnership began in 2003 with a benchmarking activity at the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics facility in Rochester. . Johnson & Johnson has taken upon itself to be a trendsetter in ergonomics. an attention to ergonomics has led to increased product quality. Unlike the EU. employees use checklists to gauge whether or not their colleagues are following sound ergonomics practices. ³We¶ve been able to justify many projects solely on ergonomics. The pride of ergonomics at Kalamazoo is the new manufacturing space for the company¶s Gelfoam product. Johnson & Johnson approached OSHA about developing a partnership to further standardization within the pharmaceutical industry. for example. or ³best known methods´ for given tasks. case packers and palletizers.to 16-in. Workers are also asked to critique their colleagues¶ physical practices. ergonomics team leader. In the injectable drug inspection area. Not all employees are receptive to changing their habits.

Managing Editor 1 vote . Johnson & Johnson's World Wide Manager for Ergonomics. y Step 6: Maintaining the ergonomics culture.´ It includes a six-step Ergonomics Maturity Ladder (EML): y Step 1: Gaining commitment and planning. y Step 5: Auditing the facility and support systems.³We opened the doors to OSHA.´ Matlis says. Get middle management¶s firm commitment to ergonomics. y Step 4: Solving problems and training employees. is a ³cultural program.´ says Mónica Matlis. and buy in from the top and the ground floor. Solutions without employee input are doomed to fail. ² Paul Thomas. y Step 3: Identifying areas of highest ergonomics risk. Establish an ergonomics culture at the site. Johnson & Johnson and OSHA expect to make some of their best practices documents available on OSHA¶s website later on this year. Consider local cultural issues when implementing ergonomics programs. y Step 2: Making easy fixes. Johnson & Johnson¶s ergonomics program. ³so that everybody owns the process. not just the safety and ergonomics professionals. Design ergonomic risk out of the process before it even touches the employee. ERGO. Matlis offers the following suggestions for building a successful ergonomics program: y y y y y y Establish a track record and long-term commitment to ergonomics. Despite its initiative to standardize best practices among its global facilities. Johnson & Johnson¶s program remains sensitive to regional and cultural differences. Ask employees.

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