Lean principles are traditionally implemented within a business to increase efficiency and save money otherwise lost in waste. Many will be familiar with 5S and its ability for organising and reducing waste in a workplace, but 5S has huge benefits in the world of health and safety and it’s not the only Lean principle used for creating a safer workplace! Read on to discover more about what many describe as ‘Lean Health & Safety’…
Many reading this will be more than familiar with 5S and its principles of sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain and how they can improve a working area through carefully planned organisation. Like all Lean manufacturing concepts, it exists to improve effective working and reduce waste. However, it’s clear to see how 5S can create a safer working area as, of course, a more organised and clutter-free work area is safer because it minimises the risk of trip hazards to cite one obvious example. It’s clear then, 5S is key to ‘Lean Health & Safety’, but is there more to it?
5S is about so much more than simply ‘tidying up’. It’s a powerful system for ensuring that good housekeeping reduces your hazards. Objects are given a designated area before being organised and planned, each placement is carefully thought out with the benefits being higher efficiencies, less stress for employees, a higher quality of work and fewer accidents, due to a reduced number of risks.
Despite 5S coming with ‘built-in’ safety features from a reduced number of risks, 6S is a step further as it includes the ‘usual’ 5S pillars (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise, Sustain) but includes Safety in its methodology. This allows professionals the time to think specifically about safety and risk at each stage of the 5S steps.
Both 5S and 6S are largely about preventing wastes through Muda, Muri and Mura with a particular focus on Muda. However, with the 6th ‘S’ there is the time to specifically think about any potential hazards which may be present at the time of implementation to ensure nothing is overlooked.
Putting the 6th ‘S’ aside for a moment, and whether you’re a professional that prefers 5S or 6S, it’s clear that these Lean principles are creating a safer workplace. Following a practice for good housekeeping is just one way that Lean can help you create a workplace driven towards continuous improvement, improving efficiency and ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for teams across the workforce.
Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement, takes time to become part of a company’s culture and is about a continual process of improvement through making small change after small change that equate to a significant effect over time. It’s clear to see how giving workers the power to improve their environment can create a safer workplace – continue to make safety improvements and over time the total effect of these small changes makes a huge impact to the workplace and the workforce.
The fundamental ideas behind successful Kaizen are:
It’s not hard to see how continuous improvement can create a safer workplace and be key in ‘Lean Health & Safety’ – empowering the team to address safety hazards when they see them or suggest changes to improve an area’s safety can have a huge effect to a business. Continue to make small changes and, over time, the results are massive.
The questions to ask yourself here are; what am I doing now to empower the team? What incentives are in place to encourage workers to report safety hazards? Is there a clear and defined method for reporting change suggestions?
Think about continuous improvement in your workplace, what are you doing, or not doing, to empower your teams to engage in Kaizen to help with your safety?
Kaizen Events are different from Kaizen, though the aim of both is to make a change for the better! Kaizen is a long-term business commitment and is about creating a culture of improvement amongst the team and making small changes which, over time, equate to a much larger overall change. A Kaizen Event is a short-term (3-5 days usually) initiative that has a pre-determined start and end point and involves a small team looking at a very specific thing.
A Kaizen Event is a concentrated effort, focused on a specific process or area and has a small team charged with evaluating and looking for ways to improve it. In the same way that a large Kaizen initiative can be used to gain improvement suggestions from the team, a Kaizen Event can be an ideal opportunity to improve a particular process alongside reducing hazards and thus the risk of injury.
In many ways, a Kaizen Event, due to its focused nature, can be a great opportunity for improving the safety of a workplace as it involves a number of team members all musing over the same particular area. Such dedicated resource aimed at one specific part of the business is surely going to benefit from lots of different opinions on a particular process and its risks and so is an ideal initiative in any ‘Lean Health & Safety’ scheme.
Lean principles might traditionally be thought of as simply ways to improve workplace efficiency. However, as you’ve read in this post, there are three Lean techniques that you can immediately start to use in your workplace to improve safety and ensure a more accident-free environment with 5S, Kaizen and Kaizen Events. These fundamentals of Lean thinking can be immediately used to start a ‘Lean Health & Safety’ programme in your workplace.
We would love to hear from you about your experiences! Have you used any of the above techniques to improve safety in your workplace? You might be doing your own ‘Lean Health & Safety’ programme without even realising.
Here at Clarity Visual Management, we consult with clients both far and wide about how they can use visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures visual management is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality Lean products to sustain the visual management programme and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies.
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