Precor to receive First 'Ergonomics in Action' Award

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is giving its first "Ergonomics in Action" award to Precor Inc., a Woodinville maker of fitness equipment.

Precor, whose manufacturing processes include heavy lifting and high hand forces, is being recognized for taking the lead in applying ergonomic principles to increase the simplicity and safety of its workplace.

"Precor has willingly taken steps to protect its employees from injuries such as back strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome," said L&I Director Gary Moore. "Precor has demonstrated concern for its employees and a commitment to workplace safety and health."

The state's ergonomics rule requires employers to protect their employees from these kinds of injuries. The rule took effect July 1, and enforcement will be phased-in beginning July 1, 2004.

L&I's new "Ergonomics in Action" award is meant to recognize individuals, employers and organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary commitment, leadership or innovation in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Each year, those disorders affect 50,000 Washington workers. The injuries cost the state's workers' compensation system, administered by L&I, more than $411 million a year in medical treatment and partial wage-replacement payments.

"An ergonomically efficient workplace creates values well beyond keeping our most important asset - our people - safe and healthy. We also gain a distinct quality advantage," admits Bill Dixon, Precor vice president of operations. "Precor has a zero-defects production philosophy, and superior ergonomics enable Precor workers to easily and simply do the job right the first time, and continue to do so throughout the day."

Precor has instituted a broad program of engineering controls to eliminate or reduce worker exposure to heavy lifting, high hand forces, repetitive motions and awkward postures. As a result, tasks are easier to perform, and workers are less fatigued and more efficient.

The L&I recognition has special meaning, says Precor Safety and Environmental Manager William Tyler.

"We have internal safety and quality metrics that validate our success in making the Precor workplace safer and more productive, so we know we've been doing well," said Tyler. "Even so, L&I recognition is an honor because of the perspective they've gained from working closely with the top manufacturers in the state."

Precor's manufacturing processes include fabrication, welding, painting, assembly and packaging. In giving Precor the "Ergonomics in Action" award, L&I commended the company for:

  • Reducing heavy lifting in its manufacturing and assembly operations.
  • Involving its employees in finding and testing solutions.
  • Using a systematic approach to improving manual material handling.
  • Investing in equipment, such as lifting hoists.
  • Addressing potential problems in jobs other than "caution zone jobs," clearly exceeding what the ergonomics rule requires.

"Smart employers such as Precor know that good business and worker safety go together," says Moore. "They know that preventing injuries protects the people who make the products that make the profits."

Precor's production facilities are among featured workplaces on L&I's Web site about ergonomics best practices at http://www.LNI.wa.gov/wisha/ergo/demoproj.htm.

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