Lean Safety

Lean Safety

Every manufacturer must create a safe workplace for employees to prevent industrial accidents, injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

Lean safety is a methodological approach to managing and reducing unnecessary risks and hazards during manufacturing processes that could lead to accidents or illness. Implementing lean safety can result in safer and more efficient working conditions that minimize errors and require fewer corrective measures. 

7% to 9% of the workforce annually experience work-related injuries. It is important to analyze patterns in reported injuries to identify departments or shifts where incidents occur frequently.

Lean safety is about using lean thinking and tools to drive world-class safety. Combining lean practices with workplace safety results in operational excellence.

An effective lean manufacturing safety process includes 100% employee participation and holds everyone accountable. They know that safety is in everyone’s best interest and recognize their responsibility to protect themselves and others from harm.

Understanding Lean 6S Methodology

The lean system initially introduced the 5S methodology:

  • Seiri (Sort)
  • Seiton (Straighten)
  • Seiso (Shine)
  • Seiketsu (Standardize)
  • Shitsuke (Sustain)

The 6th S, Safety, was added to improve safety further, creating the lean 6S safety system, a unifying factor for the 5S. 

Let's begin by discussing the 6S methodology, formerly the 5S process, and learn how lean principles can improve workplace safety.

  • Seiri (Sort)

    xThis principle involves going through the workplace and removing any unnecessary items or clutter. It helps create a clean and organized environment by getting rid of objects that are not needed for the job, reducing the risk of accidents, improves efficiency, and makes it easier to find essential tools and materials. This step ensures that you only have what you really need, leaving more floor space to move around, and fewer obstacles to encounter. This greatly reduces the risk of tripping and falling, starting accidental fires, and any other avoidable hazards.

  • Seiton (Straighten)

    Also known as Set in Order, this principle focuses on arranging tools, equipment, and materials in a logical and orderly manner. Everything should have a designated place, and it should be easy to find and access items when needed. By keeping things organized, accidents can be prevented, caused by misplaced objects and create a more efficient work environment.

  • Seiso (Shine)

    It emphasizes the importance of cleanliness and maintenance in the workplace. Regular cleaning and upkeep help keep the work area safe and free from hazards such as spills, debris, or equipment malfunctions. A clean and well-maintained environment promotes safety, efficiency, and a positive work atmosphere.

  • Seiketsu (Standardize)

    Standardization involves establishing consistent procedures, guidelines, and visual cues for work processes and safety practices. It ensures that everyone follows the same protocols and understands the expected standards. By having clear and consistent methods, we can reduce errors, minimize risks, and create a more predictable and safe work environment.

  • Shitsuke (Sustain)

    Sustaining the improvements made through the previous principles is crucial for long-term success. It involves developing a culture of continuous improvement and safety consciousness. Regular training, monitoring, and reinforcement of the Lean Principles help ensure that safety practices are consistently upheld and integrated into daily work routines.

  • Safety

    The last stage of the 6S lean safety process is safety, which is an important addition to the traditional 5S methodology. This step focuses on recognizing potential dangers and implementing measures to protect employees during work activities. The objective is to minimize health risks, prevent workplace injuries, and ensure that the work environment meets safety standards. Safety considerations should be prioritized throughout the implementation of the other lean principles.

    By implementing these Lean Principles, organizations can create safer, more organized, and efficient work environments while promoting a culture of continuous improvement and safety awareness.

Identifying Safety Hazards

To ensure a safe and comfortable work environment for your employees, it is crucial to identify and address any potential hazards and risks that may threaten their safety or the safety of equipment and products. Various methods such as observation, interviews, surveys, checklists, audits, or incident reports can be used to gather and analyze relevant data. 

In manufacturing settings, some common hazards and risks include slippery or disorganized floors, sharp or hot objects, exposure to noise or dust, inadequate lighting or ventilation, repetitive motions, handling heavy loads, and lack of proper training or communication. Addressing these issues can create a safer and more conducive work environment.

Mitigating Safety Risks

While workplace safety and health may already be a priority in many organizations, there are still opportunities for improvement. Here are some essential steps your organization can take to reduce workplace health and safety risks:

  • Identify Hazards: Conduct a thorough workplace assessment to identify potential safety hazards. This can involve observing work processes, engaging with employees, and reviewing incident reports. It's important to have a clear understanding of the specific risks present to prioritize areas for improvement.
  • Involve Employees:  Encourage employees' active participation in identifying safety risks. Employees are often the ones most familiar with daily operations and can provide valuable insights into potential hazards. Creating a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting concerns or suggesting safety improvements is essential.
  • Implement Controls: Once hazards are identified, establish appropriate risk mitigation controls, including implementing safeguards, providing personal protective equipment (PPE), modifying work processes or equipment, or improving signage and communication.
  • Provide Training: Ensure employees receive thorough training on safety procedures and practices relevant to their roles. This includes instruction on properly using equipment, handling hazardous materials, and understanding emergency protocols.
  • Maintain a Clean and Organized Environment: Integrate the 5S or 6S principles to promote cleanliness and organization in the workplace. Keeping work areas free from clutter, maintaining proper storage systems, and ensuring clear pathways contribute to a safer environment.
  • Continuous Improvement: Foster a culture of continuous safety improvement. Encourage employees to report near misses, provide feedback on safety procedures, and suggest ideas for enhancing safety measures. Regularly review safety practices, assess their effectiveness, and adjust as needed.
  • Regular Inspections and Audits: Conduct regular safety inspections and audits to identify potential safety hazards or areas for improvement. This proactive approach allows you to address safety issues before they escalate and ensures ongoing compliance with safety standards.


Implementing lean principles can have a positive impact on workplace safety. By adopting lean practices, companies can not only improve safety standards but also increase productivity and financial performance. 

Safety initiatives can complement lean efforts, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship. Organizations can expect a safer working environment, increased efficiency, and a healthier bottom line by integrating a lean safety plan.


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