Founded in 1872, The Boston Globe is New England's largest newspaper and winner of 18 Pulitzer Prizes. With two sites, in Boston and Billerica, Massachusetts, The Boston Globe employs 2,200 full-time and 550 part-time employees. Since 1993, The Boston Globe has been a wholly owned subsidiary of The New York Times Company. The company's core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting, and distributing high-quality news, information, and entertainment.

The Challenge

The Boston Globe believes that the safety of its employees is paramount no phase of operations or administration is more important. In 2002, the company initiated a revamped safety program focusing on management commitment and accountability, accident investigation, and safety auditing to support its safety mission. In late 2004, injury prevention results began to plateau, and the company launched a multi-dimensional ergonomics initiative focusing on its three largest production departments: Pressroom, Mailroom, and Delivery.

The Pressroom and Mailroom's 500 combined employees are involved in high-risk activities such as pushing paper rolls, climbing ladders, operating tying machines and stackers, and moving pallets of material. The Delivery department's 300 drivers use step vans and relay trucks, and carry up to 500 bundles weighing 20 to 30 pounds each per shift. The Pressroom, Mailroom, and Delivery areas account for 75% of The Boston Globe's work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

The Solution

The Boston Globe set out to become a leader in both safety and ergonomics. Knowing that it needed to accelerate its injury reduction efforts, the company enlisted the help of Humantech. Jointly, The Boston Globe's safety steering committee and Humantech's ergonomists developed and continue to implement a multi-step process to establish a sustainable ergonomics program.

The first step, creating a partnership between management and labor unions and communicating their unified support throughout the organization, helped kick off a successful program. The focus then shifted to developing the program's infrastructure. Key elements included establishing a work plan, defining the roles and responsibilities of all personnel, and leveraging existing mechanisms. The infrastructure was solidified with a written ergonomics policy and a guidance document specifying goals and describing how The Boston Globe would achieve them.

With the infrastructure in place, the team concentrated on improving the workplace by analyzing all 38 operations within the three departments, and prioritizing the jobs based on ergonomic risk and time exposure. The ten highest-risk operations were studied in greater detail. Short-term and long-term improvement plans were established and ranked based on impact and cost. Short-term ergonomic improvements were implemented to ensure employee involvement in the entire process, and when feasible, successful models were replicated across similar jobs. Long-term improvements continue to be implemented as resources become available.

Next, The Boston Globe focused on internalizing the ergonomics process to ensure its sustainability by developing the skills of its employees.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.