While it can be argued that safety is built into the various steps of 5S, having a focus on workplace safety in this methodology is beneficial and is referred to as 6S. 6S builds upon the 5S approach with the added step of safety. While safety is an ongoing process, it is supported in all five pillars of the 5S system. Here’s how to add some emphasis on safety to each 5S step:
- Sort: Having a cluttered workspace can impede workflow and slow down processes, but it can also lead to a variety of safety hazards. A messy workbench or toolbox can result in someone getting cut or otherwise injured by an unseen hazard. Properly sorting a work area can have a beneficial impact on safety.
- Straighten: Having tools and equipment set in logical places, it is less likely a worker will have to move in an unsafe way to reach it or accidentally grab the wrong, and more dangerous, tool. The straighten step also includes labeling the workplace, an excellent step for labeling hazardous chemicals or unsafe areas of the workplace.
- Shine: This step essentially encompasses the cleaning of work areas and removing all the dirt and grime that may have built up over time, and a cleaner workspace is a safer workspace. Another important part of the ‘shine’ step is to perform machine and equipment to ensure they are working properly and safely.
- Standardize: Ensure workers are following safe practices in the workplace daily and that the first three pillars of 5S are practiced consistently and correctly.
- Sustain: Keep the progress made with 5S going forwards. Having sustained improvement will lead to a safer workplace. It is important to remember that safety is an ongoing practice that must be emphasized every day for best results.
- Safety: Finally, it is important to remember that safety is an ongoing practice that must be emphasized every day for best results. Using visual cues and reminders will keep workers informed and safe while on the job.