What does “lean safety” mean? Good question. Lean safety is a method for identifying and reducing waste in processes to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. The “Lean 6S” 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; since then, the idea has been adapted to suit many business goals in the form of lean manufacturing, lean production, and lean safety.

A complementary concept, often paired with lean thinking, is called 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, progress is inevitable.

Lean safety with the 6S program

Safety – Put safety first in the workplace. This concept should be at the forefront as you implement the other lean principles.

Sort – Go through all the items in the work environment. Keep necessary items and purge the rest.

Straighten – Put items in the most logical places.

Shine – Clean equipment, furniture, floors, and all areas of the work-space.

Standardize – Set up a process and rules for maintaining and improving the prior principles.

Sustain – Practice discipline by working to maintain each of the lean habits.

Benefits of 6S safety

When you implement a 6S 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 and less severe injuries

  • Reduction in workers’ stress levels

  • Fewer trip hazards due to reduced clutter

  • 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 increased productivity, a healthier bottom line, and a safer work environment when you implement a lean safety plan.


Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.

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