Training Helps Keep Goodyear’s Workers Safe
Making tires is exacting work that involves a lot of physical labor—pushing, pulling, and lifting. The potential for injuries is great unless workers know how to carry out their tasks with the proper methods and equipment. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has therefore prioritized training in ergonomics. At its Fayetteville, North Carolina, plant, Goodyear’s ergonomics training took steps forward when the safety team launched a “push, pull, lift” campaign to teach best practices for these three kinds of work. The team invited volunteers from the workforce to learn best practices and become “safety coaches” who would demonstrate methods during training sessions set up on the plant floor. Employees were highly engaged and immediately began working more safely, so the team concluded that hands-on training was an effective method to continue and expand. The company set up an “ergonomics sandbox” at the Fayetteville facility to continue the ergonomics training and provide an area for practice. The area features equipment installed to simulate the movement of materials on the job. Originally, the ergonomics sandbox was set up just for the assembly workers, but as other work groups learned of it, they began asking to use it as well. Goodyear added more hands-on learning modules and began making the training area available to the rest of its 2,000-plus Fayetteville workers. With the ergonomics sandbox, Goodyear continued using safety coaches—employees who receive in-depth training so they can help their co-workers work safely. Because the coaches do the same jobs, they are credible when they show how to avoid injury. The company also contracts with a physical therapist and his assistant to provide training to employees in the ergonomics sandbox and one-on-one coaching and feedback at employees’ workstations. The leaders of Goodyear’s safety program say the biggest challenge with this training program has been keeping up with employees’ demand to participate. Employees use the ergonomics sandbox not only for basic safety training, but also to try out their ideas for improving safe use of the plant’s machinery. The payoff has been reductions in accident rates and in the severity of accidents. Over the first five years of the program, the facility has seen its costs for workers’ compensation (a type of insurance for injured workers) fall by an estimated 60%. Based on the success in Fayetteville, the company committed to offering similar facilities at six more plants in North America and Europe.
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