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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 39, Issue 2, March 2009, Pages 403–412
Although the ambiguity of the impacts of lean production (LP) on working conditions is well-known, few in-depth empirical data are available concerning LP applications in contexts other than automobile plants located in developed countries. This study presents an assessment of the impacts of LP on working conditions in a harvester assembly line of an American-owned plant in Brazil. Data collection involved four main stages: (a) a qualitative assessment of the extent to which 11 LP enablers were adopted in the assembly line, based on 15 interviews with managers and supervisors; (b) interviews with six safety specialists, one safety engineer and three groups of 10 workers, in order to detect their views on both the negative and positive impacts of LP; (c) the application of two types of questionnaire to be answered by all assembly line workers – one of them aimed at assessing their views on the current working conditions and the other aimed at assessing their views on the differences between the old Taylorist–Fordist system and the new lean system; (d) a feedback meeting to discuss the results of the questionnaires with the workers. As a framework for analysis, the data collected were grouped into four constructs: work content; work organization; continuous improvement; and, health and safety. The results indicated that workers considered their working conditions were fairly good and had improved after the introduction of LP. To some extent, this positive view was due to the fact that there were many gaps between standardized work and real work. This meant that workers did not follow the assembly standards strictly and had substantial degrees of freedom.