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Lean Safety

Use Lean Tools to Support New Safety Protocols

Safety, already a top priority for every organization, has become even more critical with the onslaught of the Coronavirus. As you work to put new safety protocols in place, the basic tenants of many of the Lean methodologies can be repurposed to help you design new process/procedures to keep your associates safe from this invisible threat – whether you are in a service/admin or manufacturing environment. Here are a few that come to mind:
 
SMED/Quick Changeover – at the heart of the changeover methodology is the concept of internals and externals. Changeover teams break down tasks into internals – those things that can be done while the machine is running, and externals – those things that must be done when the machine is shut down. This concept can also be applied to keep your teams safe. Ask yourself what tasks can be carried out in advance, re-sequenced, or reassigned, to minimize the time individuals need to be in contact with one another.
 
5S – Sort, Set-in-order, and Shine, three of the 5Ss, have a lot to offer as you work to organization your workplace in the post-pandemic world. By keeping your workplace clear of clutter (sort/set-in-order), you can reduce search and touch times which will decrease interactions and the potential of cross contamination. By establishing new cleaning protocols (shine), you can keep high-touch surfaces germ free. Once established, develop one-point lessons to ensure new protocols become a standard part of daily work and incorporate them into your daily management system so they will be sustained over the long-term.
 
Visual Displays/Controls – as you have no doubt seen in your local supermarket, adding visual cues to aisleways to denote one-way traffic flow can help limit unnecessary contact between associates. What other steps can you take to limit contact? Ask yourself, what information do we need to share and what controls should we put in place to effect behaviors? For example, establishing visual controls to alert associates when small areas, rooms, or offices are at capacity will prevent overcrowding.
 
One-Point-Lessons – these short, mostly visual, single-page documents are typically used in the workplace to help associates carry out tasks correctly, consistently, and safely at the point of use. They can also be used to build the new safety protocols into standard work. Consider creating one-point lessons to highlight the proper way to wear PPE, underscore cleaning and hand washing protocols, and to outline new work standards/procedures so they are easy for everyone to understand and adhere to.
 
Mistake-Proofing – when we seek to mistake-proof a device or process, we look to identify Red Flag Conditions – those that commonly provoke errors. Think about your environment. Where do you see potential “red flag conditions” occurring? Then consider, what is needed to eliminate the potential for error?
 
Combining your Lean mindset with elements embedded in the core Lean techniques will go a long way to keeping your environment safe and your associates healthy. If we can be of assistance along the way, please give us a call. We’re happy share perspectives as you work to design and implement updated safety protocols for a post-pandemic workplace.

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