When moving down the Lean path, keep your eyes and mind open to every opportunity to reinforce the good behaviors you want, especially in the early stages. The best way is to combine Lean activities with existing ones. If your people are already doing something, adding the Lean portion won’t be a totally separate thing to deal with. For instance, if you have a start-up or end-of-day routine, add some time for a little 5S every day. Make sure things are where they are supposed to be at the end of the day, and you won’t waste time looking for them in the morning.
What’s your best first candidate for shop-wide impact? Your Safety Committee! Look back through the last several sets of minutes. Review the near-miss reports. Look again at any recent accident reports. What do they tell you?
Every time you see an issue that could have been improved with better housekeeping or better floor organization, note it. Follow up to be sure the Safety Committee’s recommended fix was a Lean solution. If it wasn’t ask them to look at it again. Then look at every open issue and determine which are fixable with a 5S solution. Have the Safety Committee feed it back to the area supervisor, or better yet, assign it to the Lean team responsible. Teach them to see the connection between their job of improving productivity and the Committee’s job of improving Safety. Do the same for the Safety Committee because neither exists in a vacuum; they are clearly intertwined. If necessary, have the supervisors delegate fixes for Safety issues back to the employees who have to adapt to the resulting change.
Sometimes just involving others in small Safety initiatives is enough. Need a new STOP sign put up at an opening between warehouses or in a fork lift aisle? Ask the fork lift operators to install the sign you just bought for them! Don’t wait for maintenance or the supervisor or even the next Safety Committee meeting. Find some of those who have to change their behavior and have them work on the solution. It will suddenly become very hard for them to tell you that they didn’t know about the new rule!
When the Secretary writes up the minutes of the Committee Meeting, instruct him to note which recommendations require a 5S solution. Be sure the Lean Teams and the supervisors know what they must do and give them their “automatic” deadline – the next meeting date! They don’t want to appear on the list two months in a row!
This kind of cross-reinforcement delivers the best message. Just as Safety by itself is not a stand-alone item, to be done as time permits, 5S is not a stand-alone item. There is no “finally” for 5S; Lean is a process of constant, continuous improvement.
You know that 5S and Lean work places will lower your accident rate. It may already be lower, and if so, try to quantify that. Of course, if not, benchmark it now so you can prove future reduction and savings. Make sure your insurance company’s annual inspection makes note of the improvements in organization, housekeeping, as well as tool and machine maintenance. Your company is both Leaner and safer than last year. Grab the immediate benefits, then make sure everyone stays focused to benefit from future gains again next year.