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6S Safety Implementation

By Joel Bradbury

6S Safety Implementation

When it comes to lean manufacturing and workplace improvement, 5S is one of the most widely known and used lean tools. It’s no surprise when you look at how 5S can increase workplace efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality. Why the sixth S then? As with many lean programs, it’s easy to lose focus and begin looking at reducing costs and improving efficiency without taking safety into account. The sixth S—Safety—helps keep the focus on safety when implementing a 5S program.

Injuries and compensation claims account for significant waste, and choosing to implement 6S, instead of the standard 5S program, can help you improve workplace organization and efficiency, while also making the workplace safer. Here are some helpful tips for 6S Safety Implementation.

6S Methodology

The 6S Methodology includes the familiar steps found in 5S, but what sets 6S apart is that it includes an additional step that helps keep safety in the forefront of workplace improvement. The steps in 6S are as follows:

6S adds safety during each of the 5s steps
6S requires safety to be taken into account during each of the 5s steps.
  • Sort: Take back control of your workplace and reduce clutter by removing unneeded or obsolete tools from the workplace.

  • Set in Order: Make sense of your workplace by arranging tools and supplies to support how workers use them.

  • Shine: Restore equipment, tools, and your workplace to their original condition.

  • Standardize: Make it so things are done the right way by creating standards for how things should be done.

  • Sustain: Ensure that standards are followed and that workplace improvements last by practicing each step on a daily basis.

  • Safety: Make sure safety is accounted for throughout the implementation process.

Unlike the first five steps, safety is not sequential. It must be taken into account during each step. During the Sort phase, for example, a tool is not obsolete only when a more efficient tool is available. A tool can be obsolete if its use is too hazardous, and a new tool can make the job safer. Likewise, during the Standardize step, work procedures need to be standardized to improve workplace safety, not just efficiency.

Improve Safety Compliance

The cost of poor safety to employers is high. A study by Stanford University found that the costs for a bone fracture can cost a company $50,000 upfront, as well as another $55,000 in indirect costs. In addition, each claim filed may come with an OSHA fine as well as an increase in insurance costs, hurting your bottom line.
(Source: The REAL Cost of a Workers’ Compensation Claim, Jeff Cavignac)

By keeping safety in the forefront, you will reduce worker compensation claims and keep insurance costs low. Another benefit of making safety part of each workplace improvement is that you have documented your effort to improve safety. This will go a long way towards reducing OSHA fines you do receive as a result of a worker compensation claim.

Take your workplace to the next level by implementing 6S today with the 6S System Guide by Graphic Products. Improve efficiency, reduce costs, and keep your employees safe with this powerful lean manufacturing tool.

Improve Safety and Efficiency

Many workplaces require employees to work from heights in order to complete their day-to-day tasks. Many of these tasks are routine, repeated throughout the day. All too often, workers end up using ladders when performing these tasks. While ladders are great for some tasks, others can make working from heights more hazardous, including:

  • Tasks that require 100% of the worker’s attention

  • Tasks that require workers to apply force when assembling or disassembling items.

The first can cause workers to lose track of their surroundings or forget they are working from a ladder, while the second can cause workers to become unbalanced when working from ladders, increasing the likelihood of a fall.

Platforms with guardrails keep workers safe at heights
Platforms with guardrails help keep workers safe while performing tasks from heights.

Using 6S to reexamine how things are done, it becomes apparent that there is room for improvement. The area needs to be kept clear of obtrusive items, meet safety requirements, and help workers perform their tasks. To this end, using work platforms with guardrails may be a good solution. These stations reduce the risk of falling, enable workers to have their tools at the same level, and provide a good surface area for getting the leverage needed to complete their tasks. Taking advantage of the full power of 6S, workers can use labels, color coding, and shadow boards to help create an organized, safe, and user-friendly workstation. The result? Workers have the tools they need and a work station designed to help them complete their work quickly and safely.

Solutions for Implementing 6S in Your Facility

Graphic Products provides several resources for implementing the 6S System in your facility.

  • The 6S System guide provides helpful information for training your workforce and practical examples to get you started. Learn how you can implement 6S in your workplace today and get your guide to the 6S System.
  • Help your workers identify tools and keep the workplace organized with clear, effective visual communication. Support the Sort phase of your program with DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products.
  • Help your workers remain safe by clearly marking aisles and traffic lanes with color-coded floor marking tapes. Help improve workplace safety and organization with PathFinder floor marking and wayfinding solutions.

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