Examination of lean production with regards to occupational health and safety : a case study in an automotive plant

Kürkçü, Esin Aytaç
The objective of this study is to examine lean production and its effects on general working conditions and occupational health and safety. Lean production is considered either as a humane way of production with positive effects on workers or to have negative consequences for workers' and their job quality. This study investigates the increasing workload of the workers as a result of the unlimited performance demands of lean production as the first hypothesis. Secondly, there is the question of whether lean production provides a reduction in the number of occupational accidents because of the fact that occupational accidents are seen as waste, thus eliminated at all costs. The last hypothesis which will be assessed is that the number of occupational diseases increases after the implementation of lean production. To that end, a case study was carried out in an automotive plant by a qualitative research method using tools of observation, document analysis, in depth interview and structured interview. As a conclusion, the implementation of lean production in a plant in automotive industry has resulted in the reduction of the occupational accidents and improvement of ergonomic conditions even though the main incentive for these improvements is to reduce the wastes and costs and to increase the profitability and competitiveness. Based on the interviews, workers do not consider that their workload is increased after the implementation of lean production. Besides, workers feel work autonomy and job satisfaction. They also claim that they do not feel job stress in contrast to the literature.