Accident Fund Policyholder Makes Ergonomic Changes to Reduce Injuries

Daman Products Co., Inc., located in Mishawaka, Ind., has been an Accident Fund policyholder for five years. Founded in 1976, they are primarily engaged in the design and manufacturing of hydraulic valve manifolds and related products.

Thanks to the company’s strong belief in workplace safety and their philosophy of continuous improvement, Daman rarely has work-related injuries. In fact, they only had a handful of recordable injuries in 2010. However, upon review of their safety records, they realized they had five rather significant repetitive motion injuries between 2005 and 2010.

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Human Resources Manager Krysten Shoulders began working with Daman’s continuous improvement team to identify conditions that trigger these injuries. The team consulted with Accident Fund WorkSafe Consultant Ryan Lambert as well as medical doctors and ergonomics consultants to help study processes on the shop floor. As part of the evaluation, the group considered ways to better position workers as they applied necessary force and strength to tighten or loosen vises. Ultimately, they decided they wanted to completely eliminate the need for their workers to manually operate the vises.

Under the advisement of Ryan, along with independent insurance agent Mark Wobbe, principal and practice leader for Gibson, and Gary Clark, loss prevention consultant for Gibson, the team determined that they would purchase a pneumatic torque multiplier to see if it would help in reducing repetitive motion injuries. This tool automatically torques vises used in machining fluid power control parts, and more importantly, replaces a manual operation that had led to the company’s repetitive motion injuries.

“After we adapted the torque multiplier for our machining process, we knew almost immediately that it was going to work for us,” said Continuous Improvement Manager Neil Henderson. “We recognize that the torque multiplier is significantly more expensive than conventional vice handles, but the payback is invaluable.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, repetitive motion injuries rank among the top five most common work injuries in the manufacturing industry. Caused by work activities performed in awkward postures, with high forces, or using repetitive motion, these injuries are also the most costly occupational health problem, costing more than $20 billion per year in workers’ compensation-related expenses, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Daman Products plans to add torque multipliers to every cell on the shop floor during 2012. “Everyone looks forward to the day when the vise handle becomes extinct at Daman,” Neil added.

“Accident Fund is proud to partner with agents and policyholders who take workplace safety so seriously,” said Ryan. “Adding this tool was a large expense for Daman, but their continuous focus on the well-being and health of their employees took precedence over cost. The implementation of this tool will improve ergonomics and reduce shoulder-related industries for their workers — a win-win!”

Accident Fund and Gibson plan to present a Safety Achievement Award to Daman Products later this month.