5 weeks ago
Saturday, April 24, 2010
An Organized Workplace the Foundation for Safety
Michael A. Taubitz
Global Health and Safety Regulatory Liaison
General Motors Corporation
We’ve recognized for many years that good housekeeping is fundamental to a safe working environment. An organized workplace takes this foundation to a higher level.
What you need – where you need it – when you need it
Why should we bother with the extra effort to be organized? After all, we have computer systems and information technology to help us organize our daily lives; moreover, today’s work pace is frantic, with constant change and personnel turnover. The problem is that in today’s information society, we get far more information than is needed, and it often collects in our offices, files and storage rooms. A hectic pace with constant change appears to be part of everyone’s future.
These are the very reasons why moving toward an organized workplace is so critical in today’s fast-paced business world. Things don’t get better automatically, and organization will help to reduce stress. It can also prevent "shortcuts."
When people have problems, they often take shortcuts to get a job done. Probability will eventually catch up with those who do not take time to do things the correct way. When an injury or problem occurs we typically ask why Jane or Joe didn’t follow prescribed operating procedures. Factors like the stress of getting the job done, not finding the right tool, having to walk too far to do something properly or having to wait are easily overlooked causal elements. It’s also common to find that the person did not know the correct way to do the task. Management often resorts to more training, warnings and use of personal protective equipment to deal with the situation.
A more enlightened approach is to organize the workplace where employees can do a job quickly and safely. Sounds good – but how to do that with the crush of deadlines and ever-increasing workload may seem insurmountable. A process proven for decades in Japanese manufacturing industry and adopted by top US companies offers a simple solution. The process is known as 5S and has five easy steps that can be applied in any environment. As you review these next few pages, think about how fundamental these steps are to establishing and maintaining planned and preventive maintenance programs. 5S is ideal for those who wish to move to the concept of "operator-owner" where a machine operator is responsible for basic maintenance.
The 5S process is comprised of five Japanese words, each beginning with "s." Their English equivalents are:
Fundamental to successful implementation of 5S, is education of the workforce to recognize the nebulous thing we call "waste." To accomplish this, we can identify problems using the following seven categories or forms of waste easily remembered as COMMWIP:
Movement of Material
Motion (excess for people)
Process/Procedure (lack or faulty)
Examples of waste are all around us – we just take them for granted. Once employees gain an understanding of a problem, they can begin to identify waste encountered in their daily lives.
7 Forms of Waste Example of Waste
1. correction redoing a report, repairing a part or redoing a service
2. overproduction running unneeded copies
3. motion taking more steps than necessary to complete a task
4. material movement material being routed through many steps
5. waiting waiting to do work or parts waiting to be worked upon
6. inventory old office or business supplies that no longer have value but are still being stored
7. procedure or process redoing things because of a cumbersome procedure
It’s common to see over 50% improvement in inventory, but the application of 5S produces many benefits:
improves organizational efficiency
reduces waste in all forms
cuts hidden and direct costs
cuts down employee frustration when "the system doesn’t work"
improves speed and quality of work performance
creates a visually attractive environment