This article focuses on the ergonomic dimension of labour organisation, discussing its practical implications and relating it to diseases derived from musculoskeletal disorders. Occupational-disease trends register the emergence of new illnesses such as musculoskeletal and stress-related ones, whose main risk factors are to be found in organisational dynamics. This shift coincides with the emergence of the Lean Production model as the paradigm for new patterns of labour organisation. In this article, we analyse one of the sectors where the Lean Production model still keeps to high levels of experimental innovation: the auto industry. In particular, we focus on the management of production time, as it catalyses exposure to risks derived from musculoskeletal disorders. The article also discusses the relationship between ergonomic methodologies and labour metrics, on the one hand, and workers’ involvement in the issue, on the other. Our considerations stem for the most part from research data collected by Francesco Tuccino (2013). In our opinion, renewed workers’ participation can become one of the principal antidotes to the emergence of disease, and it must be based on awareness of the new work metrics. However, the problem has structural roots, as it lies within companies’ finance- oriented strategic choices.
Keywords: Lean Production, ergonomics, musculoskeletal disorders, automotive industry, health at work, production time