June 01, 2012
By Jerome Greer Chandler
Increased focus on human factors is making ramps safer and hangars less hazardous. That focus appears to translate into fewer workplace accidents, and fewer lost workdays.
Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance employs a pair of full-time ergonomists. “We integrate ergonomics at the very beginning of any industrial project,” says Pierre Girault, AFI KLM E&M's senior vice president of quality, safety, environment and sustainable development. “We organize the project around a process.”
At its Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, work stair design and protective headgear were issues. A rework of both allowed the maintenance facility to see a 30% drop in related accidents, says Girault. For six years running, overall workplace accidents have plummeted 10% per year, he says.
This emphasis on ergonomics is helping AFI KLM E&M's safety efforts. Many of those projects are accomplished high above unforgiving hangar floors. AFI KLM E&M's work stair initiative was partially driven by technicians, as was a project at ST Aerospace.
ST Aerospace designed a new modular rail system to reduce the risk of technicians taking a tumble from elevated aircraft docking platforms.
Lim Serh Ghee, ST Aerospace's COO, says the lightweight, adjustable modular rail system “has improved safety, [because] it can be set up to close any gaps as soon as the dockings are repositioned.” He says the system is faster and easier to install than temporary wooden structures and “has helped increase productivity on the work floor.”
At Delta TechOps, ergonomics and physical preparation work in tandem to control workplace injuries. “First and foremost, we want our employees to come to work mentally and physically prepared to go to work,” says Lee Gossett, Delta's managing director for line maintenance and director of maintenance for the carrier's Part 121 certificate. Technicians stretch and flex at the beginning of each shift. “Getting prepared to perform the task [is critical],” says Gossett. “We're all over the aircraft. We're up and down— squatting and bending and twisting.”