Safety and Ergonomics in Airframe Manufacturing essay
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Airframe shop workers spend much of their time ground handling. All personnel, including technicians, engineers, and many others must proficient in operating support equipment of the work shop. There is always some complexity while working with the ground handling equipment and may involve various hazards. The whole process requires technicians to go through special trainings in order to posses special knowledge on safety processes in the Airframe shop. They are required to learn how to service, taxi, start up and use the support equipment. In this paper the information on safely operating and servicing will be provided. There will be some evidences on human factors which are often present in the process of the airframe shop maintenance. It is obvious that there are far too many factors of human influence involved in working process, but more attention should be paid to some of them. In serious industries like this one many faults are caused because of deadline pressure, fatigue, lack of attention, inability to communicate, complacency, and absence of information. On-site supervisors and team leaders should be aware of how risks which could be caused by human factors and can easily affect the safety of work performance.
Safety and Management
Safety in the airframe shop has shown the improvement process in safety management in the traditional production settings. Depending on the sphere of appliance the health and safety structure can be very complex, it often involves many people from deferent departments of the company it basically reflects traditional management system. Big companies employ specially educated staff whose main role is to care about safety and health of the team members. The bigger the company the more professionals it is able to draw. They often divide their duties according to their knowledge and education. They can be hygienists, physicians, safety technicians, and/or nurses. Their duties are to manage to prevent different safety problems which can be found in the production or maintenance process of any respectful manufacturer. They use the scheme to provide safe work conditions by employing health and safety supervisors, who would be responsible for whole team and for management of risks on daily basis, since 70s of the past century. The safety supervisors usually get support from a group of other specialists. People began to pay more attention to their wok conditions. A big role was played by the trade unions. They were pushy on safety questions demanding from the government special regulations on the program. It brought the situation to its improvement and development. Of course there were many unsolved questions, but it was a beginning of the new health and safety era. This led to taking of the responsibilities from the line managers and shifting them on the health and safety professionals.
Today more and more attention is paid to the quality level of the managing processes of the personnel. Again, more responsibilities are put on line managers. The airframe manufacturers choose programs that associate safety and health as an entire part of a strong reliable production process. That is why, it is strongly believed that concentration on the safe processes is the main target in manufacturing, so illness and injury prediction remains important object. The airframe industry applies some ordinary procedural and engineered-based and application of behavior-based programs. In order to achieve the highest results in preventing injuries at work three components should be included: “visible commitment by both management and the employees, a clearly stated expectation of outstanding performance in injury/illness prevention and accountability and reward system”( Stellman, 2008). If all mentioned systems are applied correctly they will lead to positive results in safety at any work place including an airframe shop.
Numerous dangerous hazards are often present at the airframe shop. The reason for this is a big size of the objects manufactured and their complexity, also different manufacturing processes that involve changes of equipment and presence of new people at a certain stage of the production process. Any person involved in the manufacturing processes can be subjected to serious injuries in case of inadequate behavior or lack of attention of the person in charge of the safety and health of the work shop. Unexpected injuries can be received from any dropped objects like a screwdriver, nips, metal bolts etc.; high percentage of stretches received on a slippery or untidy surface; many of those who neglect wearing special harness or do not care to wear it properly risk to fall of lifts, ladders, or other heights; all equipment must be grounded or it can cause electric shock which may be vital; some objects get very hot and can burn the skin; chemical application is only allowed for trained person who must wear special PPE and mask; all workers should pay much attention to their clothes and hair to avoid being caught by any rotating parts of the equipment; any performed activity implicates cleaning and tidying of the place from any unnecessary tools and materials.
It is logical that today injuries are not so frequent and bad as they were some time ago; it only shows that safety processes become more and more effective. Great deal of this success belongs to promoting programs for employees; people change their attitude to safety at work and often refuse to work in inappropriate and hazardous conditions without special on-site regulations.
None of industries is able to work without dealing with human factors. The airframe manufacturing is not an exception.
Engineers spent and keep spending now a lot of time on improving safety of the flight; it was the key point of all designs meant to receive the safest pilot deck. Nowadays ergonomics as a part of the whole industry does huge scientific investment in the area of injury and illness preventions by taking into account human factor. They do everything possible if not to exclude than to reduce the influence of human factors. The work in the shop envisages hard work, lots of banding and stretching, one often needs to repeat the same procedure and to work surrounded by machines producing noise and vibration. All these influences are possible for reduction. It would allow workers to work in proper and comfortable conditions. To implement such improvements the manufacture uses ergonomic ideas in designing of products and work processes. It means that interfunctional brigs cooperate with the designers of tools and facilities in order to remove all predictable dangers in their work processes.
Much of attention is paid to the wire shops in the airframe manufacture industry, which involve numerous crimping and striping tools requiring strong physical force. Many of such tools are changed for pneumatic ones. Most of the work places have height adjusting options which allow workers to choose the most comfortable position according to their needs and body constitutions. The work process has special time schedules for different operational activities. It prevents workers from overloading certain groups of muscles. Working in the wing-lines was another target of safety and health engineers. The solution was using special lifting platforms which height could be adjusted, it reduced the number of cases were the worker would use a ladder to get to the necessary position to start riveting or drilling. New toolsets were introduced for workers in charge of riveting. Now they can use electromagnetic low-recoil riveting tools. The tools have a reduced level of noise and vibrations. Unfortunately, in practice they are not always very useful.
When new composite materials were introduced to manufactures,which were believed to be new generation materials, it lead to the necessity of inventing new tools which would decrease the time of forming, placing and cutting. This way they also tried to reduce the level of the ergonomic risks. Now, many new tools can be adjusted to comfort the working process. The team work of all people involved helped to improve the quality of work by: using different lifting equipment were it was possible; combining of works and time scheduling for each activity; developing of other processes on safety issues. All these measures improved the quality of the products, productivity of workers and lowered the ergonomic risks.
Taking new safety measurements is a complicated process for many reasons. In many cases changes cause the resistance of people, who get used to things and work becomes for them more like a habit, and one does everything automatically. Sometimes it is difficult to get right sources and specialists to fulfill all changes comprehensively. Drawing safety professionals is vital for the ergonomic changes of the airframe shop. Only right people are able to move the process in the necessary direction without stressing the staff to much. The most obvious part of the manufacturing process that is more influential for the resistance is Production. It can be resistant because of worries about slowing down of the production. New technologies require some time to get used to them. There is noticeable loss of speed caused by absence of certainty in the process of ergonomic changes. The best solution is to have a person in charge to monitor the process and to help worker by explaining necessity of changes. Monitoring should be proved with collected data on injuries and accidents at work.
The changes are always for the better. It is strongly believed that management of the airframe shop should pay much of its attention to the safety and health of the workers. The ergonomic issues at the work places involve all physiological aspects in of the worker. It means that using adjustable tools will only decrease the number of injuries at the work shop. Ergonomic improvements should also influent the environment (heating and lighting, noise level, comfortable working conditions).