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CHRYSLER ERGONOMICS COMMITTEE TARGETS GAIN WITHOUT PAIN

 CHRYSLER ERGONOMICS COMMITTEE TARGETS GAIN WITHOUT PAIN
 DETROIT, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- From conveyor lines to exercise


equipment, employees and management ergonomically designed Jefferson North Assembly plant to be a safer and more comfortable workplace.
 Jefferson North is Chrysler's newest assembly plant in Detroit where production of an all-new sport utility vehicle, the Jeep(R) Grand Cherokee, will begin in January 1992.
 "Ergonomics are very important at Jefferson North because the average age of the plant's work force is 51," said Aaron Taylor, president of United Auto Workers Local 7. "Their years of experience are a great asset, so we've planned ways to help them work smarter, not harder."
 Ergonomics is the science of designing work stations and jobs to safely accommodate employees, according to Dan Catau, Chrysler Safety and Health Specialist.
 Catau and his union counterpart, Billy Thompson, lead the Jefferson North committee to recommend ergonomic changes in the traditional production process.
 "On assembly lines, much of the work involves repetitive actions -- bending, lifting, twisting," said Catau. "After time, these actions can strain technicians' muscles and cause work-related illnesses such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. Our joint committee planned safer work stations and tools."
 In the early stages of designing Jefferson North, Chrysler placed particular emphasis on ergonomics. That emphasis enabled a Chrysler/UAW joint committee to test workstations and tooling on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, 95 weeks before production. This is the earliest stage in vehicle development that Chrysler has ever tested ergonomics.
 About 140 suggestions by the committee outlined additional changes to improve the safety and comfort of the workplace and specific jobs, according to Catau. The committee then worked with Chrysler suppliers to meet the ergonomic requirements when building the plant.
 Some of the ergonomics at Jefferson North that resulted from committee recommendations were:
 -- Lighter tools that don't require twisting or jerking the wrist or elbow.
 -- Conveyors at a height to minimize stooping or bending.
 -- Eliminating the pits on the line where technicians reach above their heads to work as the vehicles pass over.
 -- Noise reduction in assembly areas.
 -- Robotic assist arms to handle large or heavy parts.
 Technicians will rotate through the few jobs requiring heavy lifting or sustained physical exertion, to reduce job-related illnesses.
 Employees can also condition themselves to prevent injuries by exercising in either of the two fitness centers at the plant where trained staff will assist. The ergonomic changes and fitness centers will greatly improve employee morale on the job, according to Jim Malinowski, Chrysler technician.
 "When the line technicians come to work at Jefferson North and see that there are no pits and the tools are lighter, they're going to think: 'Hey, someone here cares about me,'" Malinowski said. "They're going to work better and harder because they will feel better and the work will be physically easier."
 The joint committee plans to work with the plant medical department to learn which ergonomic changes are most effective. They will recommend those ergonomics to Chrysler's other plants.
 "One of the difficulties with illnesses like carpal tunnel syndrome is that they develop over time," said Dr. Robert Brandt, Chrysler's Occupational Safety and Health Manager. "It was not until the last few years that there was enough researched evidence to connect these illnesses to actions in the work place.
 "Avoiding work-related illnesses greatly concerns Chrysler, because it threatens technicians' long-term health," Dr. Brandt added. "Absenteeism could affect product quality and overall productivity. Potentially, these illnesses are very costly."
 -0- 11/5/91
 /CONTACT: Erika Huyck of Chrysler, 313-956-0634/
 (C) CO: Chrysler Corporation ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: SB -- DE026 -- 1389 11/05/91 16:16 EST
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Date:Nov 5, 1991
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