Case Study I In a manufacturing plant of a global automotive company with headquarters in Canada, a large number of engineering activities are carried out in a wide range of areas. These activities include design, production of parts, assembly, testing, and quality assurance. Many of the manufacturing processes in the plant are performed using automated technologies and equipment. People also perform some of the manufacturing tasks and the plant employs over 400 workers. The decision on whether people or machines will be used for a particular task is dependent on many factors, including costs, time, quality and worker health and safety. The plant considered here produces a many parts for vehicles and assembles them. Among the parts produced are engine materials and parts, pumps, fans, some exterior parts, and electronics components. The plant normally operates three shifts per day and has production lines including machining equipment, conveyers and overhead cranes, punch presses, and paint-spray booths. The plant utilizes electricity and natural gas extensively. A number of workers at the plant have over the last six months been subject to several different health problems. The following information has been received by the head engineer at the plant. a) In an assembly area that was installed recently, workers have to bend to the ground throughout the day to attach several small parts onto a large and heavy vehicle component. Some workers have begun to develop lower back pain, likely due to the repetitive bending. The problem has become so severe for one of the workers that he has been told by his doctor to stay off work for two weeks so his back can recover. The manufacturing engineers who designed the assembly operation had wanted to use an automated system, but that option was deemed not to be economic. So they used a manual operation, but did not take into account industrial ergonomics, as they had no expertise in that discipline. b) An increased incidence of respiratory illnesses has been reported over the last month by workers operating near the paint-spray booths. Many of the substances used in the booths (paints, solvents, etc.) are known to be causes of the observed respiratory illnesses. But the workers are

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