Health care costs in the U.S. have increased at an accelerated rate over the past 10 years. These costs have hit the automobile industry particularly hard. Big 3 auto production companies spend more for health care than they do on steel, and health care costs are approaching $2000 per vehicle produced.
To find ways to reduce costs by studying worker injuries and improving manufacturing practices, the Ohio State College of Engineering, of which theis a part, has partnered with major automotive companies to create the Center for Occupational Health in Automotive Manufacturing, a first-of-its-kind research center that will use cutting-edge analysis methods to protect worker health, reduce worker injuries and optimize high-tech vehicle production.
COHAM at Ohio State University
A unique interdisciplinary partnership between several Ohio State departments and a variety of automobile manufacturers and suppliers, COHAM will design assembly tasks and processes that minimize occupational health risks and enhance productivity and quality. The Center will provide a "real world" environment to study and develop cutting edge health risk assessment techniques for the high tech manufacturing technology critical to Ohioís economy. Designed to be a showcase for occupational health research, the Center will also serve as a platform for automobile manufacturing suppliers to demonstrate their new technologies and potential solutions for occupational health.
COHAM is the only university-based full scale manufacturing operation in the world where automobile manufacturers as well as suppliers can test the effects of manufacturing systems on the health of workers. This approach will provide quantitative cost-benefit information to manufacturers so that they can make production decisions based upon scientific evidence.
Health and Safety in Manufacturing
COHAM will feature several new production technologies, such as overhead car carriers, new tool concepts and adjustable height skillet systems developed to orient the vehicle relative to the worker, in an attempt to reduce musculoskeletal stress. These systems use numerous support functions including tools, rail systems, balancers, carts, etc. Some of these systems have been adopted overseas, but they are expensive and few have made their way into American auto manufacturing environments, because little work has been done to optimize the implementation of these devices in a working environment.