"The implementation of this organizational model of production [Lean] may result if certain conditions are not met, in a deterioration of the workers´ health (musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial risks, accidents)."
Michel Baudin's insight:
This document, from a French government agency, asserts that the implementation of Lean could make saferty worse in French plants. This might suggest that, without Lean, safety in French plants is adequate.
Lean is debated in France with the zero-sum assumption that, if you improve productivity and quality, it can only be at the expense of something else, usually safety. The idea that you can improve all dimensions of performance at the same time is not accepted.
My experience of French plants is of safety levels that are perhaps higher than China's but a far cry from what you see in Japan or the US. The accidents waiting to happen range from people and forklifts sharing space without marked aisles, wine served in factory cafeterias, slick floors in metal working shops, operator jobs that require long carries of heavy parts,...
While it is conceivable that a poor Lean implementation could make this even worse, a reasonably good one is guaranteed to improve on this dismal situation, simply by paying long overdue attention to the details of operator job designs. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the INRS summary of recommendations, but they are already part of Lean.
"There are common misconceptions that keep manufacturers from integrating safety into lean manufacturing, McHale said. 'People think there's no place for safety in lean," he said. "Safety will just impede things; all of my processes will slow down. Implementing safety doesn't necessarily result in lost production.'
McHale believes safety and lean manufacturing principles can reinforce one another."
Michel Baudin's insight:
I agree with McHale. If, in implementing Lean, you give the proper amount of attention to the engineering dimension and focus first on the design of the production lines, in the details of operations you see risks that were overlooked before, from accidents waiting to happen to movements and postures that generate repetitive stress.
As you improve the line, you also improve its safety and its ergonomics. It shows respect for people in a concrete way, ensures that you retain them, and secures their support of your efforts.
When you reduce the hand carrying distance of a car battery from 50ft to 2ft, you not only make the job safer and less tiring, but you increase productivity and reduce handling damage at the same time. You don't improve one dimension of performance at the expense of another. Instead, you improve all of them concurrently. This is the essence of Lean.
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