Leveling Up To 6S a Risk Worth Taking
In a recent blog post, we addressed the 5S Lean manufacturing process – which is brilliantly simple and effective with its sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain approach. But this process can be made even more effective by the addition of a 6th S – safety. While it may seem intuitive that each stage’s adoption enables a safer workspace, re-evaluating the 5S cycle with a specific eye toward safety enables further improvements and changes on the facility floor.
According to EHS Today, advancing to a 6S organization means manufacturers would need to conduct an OSHA approved risk assessment during each of the five steps, which enables them to rank and address certain risk factors and create preventative measures. This is a systematic approach to identify significant safety hazards across the entire workspace. It assesses the likelihood and potential severity should an accident occur and provides steps for implementing control measures. A risk matrix can be used to outline the level of consequences from negligible injuries to fatalities and also to rank the likelihood of an incident happening, from highly unlikely to very likely.
Within the industry everyone understands that there are components of the manufacturing process that are naturally more hazardous than others. Calling out safety as a separate step means more appropriate measures are carried out to decrease potential accidents that might occur. For example, during each of the 5S phases ensuring that workers have appropriate access to the gear needed to carry out their jobs safely – such as hard hats and safety glasses - minimizes exposure to a hazard. It’s equally important to provide ways for employees to communicate potential risks and provide reports to management on how the operation is doing in terms of adhering to that protocol.
In addition, visually marking any and all hazards on the manufacturing floor puts emphasis on them and allows employees to be more aware of their surroundings. A great suggestion from 5stoday.com in an article on 6S is the use of floor tape, signs and labeling to mark everything from aisleways and rack systems to eye wash stations and pallet jack parking. Technology can help here too - passive zone sensors can automatically detect changes in temperature, or other potential hazards before they become a problem.
Whether it’s considered step one or step six, there is no arguing safety’s role in ensuring an ongoing continuous improvement cycle. It helps keep companies on the competitive edge, increases retention, allows for a happier workplace and minimizes stress since workers feel more empowered operating in the safest environment possible.
The addition of the 6th S may just make a world of difference in an organization. Have you incorporated it into yours?