Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Bridging the ergo chasm at Gulfstream Aerospace

Translating great ideas into reality can be difficult. Witness the discipline of ergonomics, which often is misunderstood as simply a way to curtail back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.

But those in the know know that ergo can become a decided competitive advantage, shaving off labor hours, keeping your workforce happier, healthier and more productive, all resulting in a less expensive, higher quality product or service. And some studies even indicate that paying attention to workers’ health and safety earns a better ROI.

So how do you bring ergonomics into your corporate mainstream? For this month’s cover story, “An Ergonomics Metamorphosis at Gulfstream,” I visited Savannah, Georgia, to examine how the business jet manufacturer has bridged the chasm between a nice theory and a functional ergonomics program. Starting from zero, Corporate Ergonomics Manager Davana Pilczuk sought out natural influencers, taught them the basics of ergonomics, made learning fun and then let them run wild selling human factors to the masses.

Videos, posters and manuals added to the knowledge base. Workers volunteered for ergo councils, absorbed the fundamentals, returned to their departments and dispersed the knowledge even more. Competitions, demonstrations and games made learning fun.

The result? An infectious enthusiasm where ergonomics courses through the organization from bottom to top. Employees generate ideas, collaborate with engineers and sketches become workable solutions. For not a lot of money, as everyone from technician to vice president pointed out, workers felt healthier, safer and produced better quality parts – an important factor when you’re selling jets that can cost more than $60 million.

Ergonomics also flows through the rest of this issue. The Front Line examines how human factors will be important in integrating robots and technology into the workforce. Tools & Technologies touts an office solution that perches between standing and sitting desks. The Institute previews this year’s Applied Ergonomics Conference 2017, where you can learn from Pilczuk and many other ergonomics experts. So click here for a look at Gulfstream's success. Your workers might feel better in the end.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IISE. Reach him at mhughes@iise.org or (770) 349-1110.