Safety vs. Efficiency or Safety = Efficiency?

As safety professionals, our goals are to improve the culture of our organizations and get people to work more safely. This can be a ‘tough sell’ to the organization's management team, as often the view is that safety goals conflict with production and efficiency objectives. The good news is: it doesn't have to be that way. We can show that safety improvements can support improvements in efficiency, and add even more value. If an organization is using a lean management system such as ‘5S’, there are in fact some very specific things we can do to improve safety concurrently.

Lean Management: The ‘5 S’ System.

A popular lean management system is called the "5 S" program : Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.(which are translated from original Japanese terms Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke) but where does Safety fit in to all of this? Shouldn't it be the sixth ‘S’? In my experience, safety principles should be incorporated each step of the way, rather than as a separate discipline. This allows the safety professional to provide input directly into the culture of an organization, and encourages the operations workers to think about safety –and ultimately perform tasks more safely-- in everything they do.

As it invokes cultural change and constant improvement, the 5S system is the ideal partner for ANSI Z-10. Both involve participation of all elements of the organization from top to bottom, and both can be broken down into simple steps that all can understand and ultimately put into daily practice.

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