Lean safety is a method for identifying and reducing waste in processes to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. The Lean 6S safety steps are: safety, sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.
Being Lean in business means saving money and avoiding waste to improve efficiency. The original concept of Lean thinking arose from Toyota’s automotive production system; however, the idea has been adapted over the years to suit many business goals in the form of Lean manufacturing, Lean production, and even Lean safety.
Another concept which is often paired with Lean thinking is Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement for the better. It involves implementing small, gradual changes over time to improve processes. So when business owners use Kaizen to achieve Lean safety, all parties benefit!
Lean Safety with the 6S Program
One of several approaches to Lean safety is the 6S program. Each of the concepts has been translated from Japanese, and safety has been added as the very first principle to emphasize its importance throughout the entire process:
Safety – Put safety first in the workplace. Promoting safety contributes to morale. Safety should be at the forefront as you implement the other Lean steps.
Sort (seiri) – Go through all the items in the work environment. Keep necessary items and purge the rest.
Straighten (seiton) – Put items in the most logical places.
Shine (seiso) – Clean equipment, furniture, floors, and all areas of the workspace.
Standardize (seiketsu) – Set up a process and rules for maintaining and improving the prior principles.
Sustain (shitsuke) – Practice discipline by working to maintain the Lean habits above.
Benefits of 6S Safety
When you implement a 6S safety plan for your business, you’ll find the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are several changes you can expect:
- Greater efficiency due to streamlined processes and conservation of materials
- Fewer injuries since employees
- Reduction in workers’ stress levels
- Fewer trip hazards due to reduced clutter
- Improved morale because workers have buy-in on the safety plan
- Improved comfort as a result of a cleaner environment
- Higher quality of work since materials are readily available
- Improved profits since Lean principles lead to efficient production
Overall, you should see happier workers, a healthier bottom line, and a safer work environment when you implement a Lean safety plan. And don’t forget…providing workers’ compensation insurance is also essential for protecting the members of your team.