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JOURNAL NAME: American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, Vol.6 No.11, November 4, 2016
ABSTRACT: The literature remains divided the ideal conditions for integration of occupational health and safety (OHS) into continuous improvement initiatives based on the principles of lean manufacturing. Few significant results and little documentation exist on the effectiveness, sustainability and the degree of integration. This paper outlines some possible explanations for the non-success of this integration and examines the hypothesis that integration is unsuccessful when the lean-based improvements themselves suffer from sustainability issues. This research project addressed the case of a Québec manufacturing company and focused on musculoskeletal injury (MSI). Twenty-four employees participated in the study for two months. Corporate documentation was analyzed. Individual interviews were used to document workers’ perception of their work environment. Continuous improvement interventions were observed to identify possible risks of MSI, and obtain a general portrait of OHS and continuous improvement in this company. The majority of the employees surveyed believed that the continuous improvement initiatives were short-lived. They also reported they experienced MSI-related discomfort following organizational changes. Examination of several initiatives showed that results were not maintained over time. The integration of OHS into continuous improvement is not systematic. When this integration is apparent, OHS goals are not always met and are rarely subject to monitoring. Taking OHS into consideration, implementing lean principles does not directly guarantee a reduction in cases of MSI. The integration of OHS into continuous improvement activities is reflected in the systematic consideration of OHS in driving lean improvements. The results of this project will help to develop a better approach to the implementation of lean to improve this integration in our industries.