What is the difference between 5S and 6S?

5S is a popular workplace organization strategy that works to improve efficiency, eliminate waste, and generally benefit the entire facility. It has been around for decades now, and is proven effective in many ways. Over the years, many people noticed that while 5S can do a lot to help improve the safety of a facility, safety was not one of its primary goals.

Since safety problems can be extremely wasteful, companies began using 5S as a way to improve the safety of a facility. The fact that safety starts with an S made it an obvious addition to this methodology, and many people began calling it 6S. Over time the sixth S became more and more standardized, and today it is seen as an important addition in many facilities.

Which is Better

When looking at the differences between 5S and 6S you don’t really want to compare them in a ‘better or worse’ type of scenario. Instead, it is best to ask which of the two will better meet the needs of a facility.

In a workplace where there are significant hazards, and safety is a real concern, it makes a lot of sense to follow 6S so safety can get the attention that is needed. In environments where there are very few significant risks, and the general day to day activities are quite safe, the 6th S may be unnecessary.

In fact, adding the 6th S in otherwise very safe environments could be seen as wasteful. When following 6S it is necessary to take the time to evaluate how different activities will impact the safety of the facility. This can be a waste of time when a change is taking place in an office building, for example.

Safety is Always Key

Whether you are following 5S or 6S, companies today must understand that safety is always a priority. Gone are the days when companies looked at safety improvement as a burdensome and expensive necessity. Instead, companies today largely realize that a safe workplace is one where there is less downtime, higher morale, more productivity, and an overall higher bottom line. Choosing the right workplace organization strategies to meet your needs will come down to looking at the specifics of your situation and taking steps to better meet the overall needs of the company.

 

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Additional Resources

5S Lean Guide
 
5S Powerpoint
 
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