How Do I Use 6S for Safety?

The modern workplace is a dynamic ecosystem where the pursuit of both operational excellence and employee well-being are paramount. In this landscape, the integration of 6S safety principles becomes a guiding light, illuminating the path toward creating an environment where safety and efficiency harmoniously coexist. But how does 6S safety work? In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the practical steps and strategies that empower organizations to utilize 6S principles to enhance safety, prevent accidents, and foster a culture of well-being.

Step 1: Sort - Prioritizing Safety and Eliminating Hazards

The journey begins with the "Sort" phase, which extends beyond decluttering physical spaces. This step involves meticulously assessing your workplace for potential hazards. Identify materials, equipment, or processes that could pose risks to employees' safety. By removing unnecessary items and identifying potential dangers, you lay the foundation for a safer environment.
For example, in a manufacturing facility, outdated machinery or malfunctioning equipment could be identified and addressed during this phase. Sorting enables organizations to proactively eliminate hazards, preventing accidents down the line.

Step 2: Set in Order - Organizing for Safety

"Set in Order" isn't just about creating an organized workspace; it's about structuring your environment with safety in mind. Ensure that essential tools and equipment are easily accessible, minimizing the need for employees to overreach or engage in risky movements. Establish designated storage areas for hazardous materials and provide clear labeling to avoid mix-ups.
In a healthcare setting, the "Set in Order" phase could involve organizing medical supplies in a logical sequence. Essential items needed for emergency procedures can be strategically placed for immediate access, minimizing the time spent searching and enhancing patient safety.

Step 3: Shine - Cleaning for Well-being

A clean workplace is a safe workplace. The "Shine" phase emphasizes regular cleaning to prevent accidents caused by slips, trips, or falls. Regular maintenance extends the life of equipment, reducing the likelihood of malfunctions that could compromise safety. Moreover, a well-maintained environment boosts employee morale and engagement.
Consider an office space: regular cleaning of walkways, common areas, and desks not only prevents accidents but also creates a positive atmosphere where employees feel valued and cared for.

Step 4: Standardize - Protocols for Consistency

"Standardize" introduces protocols that ensure safety practices are consistently followed. Establish clear procedures for handling hazardous materials, operating equipment, and responding to emergencies. By standardizing safety protocols, you minimize variations that could lead to mistakes or accidents.
In a laboratory setting, standardization could involve protocols for handling chemicals. Clear guidelines on storage, usage, and disposal prevent accidental spills, exposure, and potential harm to personnel.

Step 5: Sustain - Cultivating a Safety Culture

"Sustain" extends beyond implementation. It's about fostering a culture where safety is ingrained in every action and decision. Regular safety training, audits, and open communication channels contribute to sustaining a safety-focused environment.
In a construction site, "Sustain" involves ongoing safety briefings, hazard identification drills, and encouraging workers to report potential risks. This sustained effort creates a culture where employees actively prioritize safety.

Step 6: Safety - The Overarching Priority

At the heart of 6S for safety is the principle of "Safety" itself. Throughout every step, safety remains the overarching priority. Invest in the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure employees are trained to use them correctly. Provide clear signage to indicate danger zones and emergency exits. Regularly review and update safety protocols to adapt to changing circumstances.
For instance, in a warehouse setting, "Safety" could involve installing safety barriers, marking pedestrian walkways, and conducting regular equipment checks to prevent accidents involving heavy machinery.

Creating a 6S Safety Plan

Implementing 6S for safety is not a one-time endeavor; it's an ongoing commitment. That being said, creating and setting up a 6S safety program can be a daunting task. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be so intimidating, and with these simple steps, you could be well on your way to implementing 6S in your facility. In order to create a comprehensive 6S safety plan here are the basic principles you need:

  • Assessment: Begin by assessing your workplace for potential hazards and areas that require improvement.
  • Action: Implement the "Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain, and Safety" steps with safety as the core focus.
  • Training: Ensure all employees receive proper training on safety protocols, equipment usage, and emergency procedures.
  • Communication: Foster open communication channels where employees can report safety concerns without fear of reprisal.
  • Review: Regularly review your safety plan, conduct audits, and make necessary adjustments based on feedback and changing conditions.
  • Continuous Improvement: Cultivate a culture of continuous improvement, where employees actively contribute to enhancing safety measures.

Utilizing 6S for safety is a holistic approach that transforms workplaces into bastions of efficiency and well-being. By implementing the principles of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain, and Safety, organizations create environments where employees can thrive without compromising their safety. The journey toward 6S safety requires commitment, training, and ongoing dedication, but the rewards are immeasurable: reduced accidents, enhanced efficiency, and a workforce that feels valued, protected, and empowered.


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