Safety in the Workplace and 5S

5S and Manufacturing Safety

Have you heard of 6S? You might be familiar with 5S, a manufacturing methodology aimed to reduce waste and optimize productivity through creating and maintaining an organized workplace utilizing visual cues. 6S builds upon the original five steps, rounding it out with the sixth S: safety. Safety is an important component of productivity and waste and can effectively reduce downtime, reduce expenses, impact work quality, and create and foster safety culture in the workplace.

Here is how you can integrate safety into a 5S program:


The first step of implementing 5S in a facility is to sort the space. This will include removing tools and machines that are not being used often and disposing of clutter from the workspace. Removing unnecessary clutter will clear the floor and eliminate tripping hazards. This step is also designed to encourage workers to improve the conditions of their own space.


Place the tools and machines left in the work area in a logical and safe way. By organizing your tools using tool foam or pegboards, you can effectively reduce the risk of employees dig around and cutting themselves while reaching for the wrong tool. Also think about ergonomics in this step; place items in locations where people will not need to bend over or make unnecessary movements to reach them.


Shining most commonly refers to keeping tools, machines, signs, floors, and other components of the workspace. Similar to the last step, keeping floors clean will eliminate the hazard of slips and trips. This step however, also includes ensuring machines are in proper working order and will not malfunction and cause injury. 

Sustain and standardize

While safety can be the cornerstone for sort, set in order, and shine, the culture of workplace safety can be carried through the standardize and sustain steps. Visual cues are essential to implementing a 5S step, and visual cues are extremely important to safety as well. Hang signs reminding workers of hazards in the area, and periodically review your safety efforts to ensure you’re keeping employees safe.

Wastes that Lean manufacturing aims to address include product defects, waiting time, extra motion, excess inventory, overproduction, extra processing, unnecessary transportation, and unutilized talents.  While it is important for workplaces to focus on safety, think about weaving safety practices into your Lean efforts as well. Workers who are confident in their safety will in turn produce higher quality work and a cleaner workplace is a safer workplace.

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