When learning about Gemba, much of the focus is on process and procedure improvement. This is obviously very important as it will help to ensure things are done in the best possible way, which eliminates waste and maximizes profits for the company. People often ask whether Gemba walks can also be used to improve safety. To put it simply, absolutely! One of the biggest advantages of Gemba walks is that they can help to improve the safety of just about any area of a facility.
Walks for Safety
Many people will schedule Gemba walks with safety in mind. Just like you can go out to a shop floor with the intent to find process improvement opportunities, you can do the same with safety. Walking through an area and watching closely for safety concerns is a very effective way to spot hazards. In addition, you can ask employees about any safety issues they have had; or ask them to describe any ‘near misses’ that they have experienced. These things will all lead to ideas on how you can keep things safer in the area.
Keeping Eyes Open for Safety Issues
Even when you are engaged in a Gemba walk for something like process improvement, you can always keep an eye open for safety concerns. Many people will notice something that appears to be hazardous while on this type of walk, and then they can look into it further. Even simply asking a front-line worker about a safety concern that you see will help you to gather more information. The concern may be nothing to worry about, or it could be a big danger. The more you know, the more you can take action to keep everyone in the facility safe.
Investigating an Injury
If someone in the facility is injured while working in a specific area, you should schedule a Gemba walk through that part of the company. Trying to walk through what actions they may have taken, what safety improvements can be made, and how the injury happened will help you to come up with ways to prevent it from happening again. A Gemba walk should really be an important part of any accident or injury report in any company.