A Navistar International employee gets ready to flip a truck chassie on the assembly line in September. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Photo: Jeff Guerini
Photo: Jeff Guerini

Navistar says manufacturing changes reduced injuries

Navistar’s improvements at the company’s Springfield plant included investments to improve ergonomics and prevent injuries on the manufacturing floor, company officials said in a recent post on a company website.

That included improvements to the strap lock installation and cutting process, which company officials said had caused a high number of hand injuries. The News-Sun reported earlier this year Navistar has invested millions in new equipment in Springfield over the past several years to revamp the interior of the facility and streamline its manufacturing processes.

Officials from the UAW Local 402, which represents the majority of workers at the Springfield facility, could not be reached for comment.

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A strap lock is an adjustable band that typically holds hoses and cables to a bracket, according to Jeff Webb, Springfield’s plant manager. It has to be pulled tight and the excess has to be cut off. The band is very strong and can be tough to trim off, and some employees were tasked with installing 1,000 strap locks per day, according to information from the company.

The company said improvements to the manufacturing process included reviewing the tools used for the process and limiting the number of strap locks installed in an 8-hour shift to 500.

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There were 41 first aid reports and 14 recordable injuries related to the work in 2015 and 2016, but that fell to nine first aid reports and no reportable injuries since, according to the company’s post.

Navistar is a significant employer locally, with about 1,800 workers in the facility.

The company launched a new medium-duty truck earlier this month built by workers in Springfield as part of a partnership with GM.

The company is in ongoing negotiations with the UAW, and both sides recently avoided a work stoppage. Members of the UAW had agreed to extend the terms of their existing contract, but briefly ended that deal last month for about two days. The sides eventually agreed to return to the terms of the existing contract and resume negotiations.

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