MTM – Work design productive and safe

Human Work Design – the new strategy for designing human work

The German Statutory Accident Insurance Scheme (DGUV) and the employers’ liability insurance scheme for wood and metal (BGHM) are organizing the 5th specialist conference entitled “Work Planning and Prevention” in Mainz on 20 December 2016. Specialists and managers from the fields of work planning, industrial engineering, ergonomics, personnel representation, occupational medicine, health management and health & safety at work will discuss the issues of “Value Creation and Working Capacity – How to Combine Both?” Knuth Jasker, Executive Director of the German MTM Association, one of the specialist sponsors of the event, and Dr. Ernst Krämer from Miele & Cie. KG, one of the partner corporations in the Human Work Design development project, will present solutions on how to reconcile competitiveness and an aging workforce.

“In the era of Industry & Work 4.0., the question arises as to whether strategies used in the past to design human work are still suitable,” says Knuth Jasker. “One solution is emerging from the current discussions in society related to a healthy way of life (work-life balance, sports, nutrition…) and the related question on how much movement or workload the human body needs to maintain its efficiency. “This question,” Jasker says, “is becoming particularly important in the light of demographic change, i.e. aging workforces.”

Using the title Human Work Design, a new strategy for designing human work and hybrid work systems, where human and machine resources cooperate with each other or collaborate (e.g. human-robot collaboration or HRC), is currently being prepared. One fundamental element in this strategy is the new MTM-HWD® building block system. Based on this building block system, it is possible to describe human movements and the posture required for all the body parts (legs, trunk, head, eyes, arms and hands). This description, in turn, forms the basis for any human-oriented design of work processes and systems and involves the following:

  • a time assessment, taking into consideration a globally standardized reference performance level (MTM standard performance) for designing productive work stations,
  • an assessment of the physical workloads in conjunction with an ergonomics process (EAWS)
  • and combining different types of workloads (body posture, load weights) to form a healthy mix.

The use of pictograms to illustrate the individual movements instead of a – more complicated – coding system is another unique feature of the new MTM-HWD® building block system. This encourages interdisciplinary cooperation between employees, managers, company physicians and industrial engineers when designing work processes.

Human Work Design moves people away from concepts aimed in the past at minimizing workloads and time towards an awareness of optimizing workloads in the sense of minimum workloads prescribed by medicine and a balanced mix of workloads. The goal is to maintain the employee’s efficiency for a defined period of observation – and, as a consequence, for the person’s complete working life. “Human Work Design enables corporations to guarantee their competitiveness in the long term,” says Jasker, with real conviction.

Designing productive and healthy work stations is what the German MTM Association is seeking to do. “Using the Human Work Design approach and the new MTM-HWD® building block system, suitable tools are now available to be able to cope with the challenges posed by Industry & Work 4.0,” says Jasker. “By the way, this approach also leads to a change in the understanding of what industrial engineering is: i.e. towards an efficient support system for productive and ergonomic work.”

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