Improving and Implementing Safety Lean Manufacturing
When people look at facility improvement opportunities they often look at process improvement methodologies, such as Lean Manufacturing. Another thing that is commonly reviewed is facility safety improvements. In many cases, however, they don’t see that using lean manufacturing techniques can often also provide safety improvements.
Thinking about safety lean manufacturing will allow you to make improvements throughout your facility in a way that will not only reduce waste and increase profitability, but also help improve safety at the same time. The following are five examples of how lean can directly improve safety within your facility.
According to DesignSafe’s document on, Integrating Safety and Lean Manufacturing
Safety must not be viewed as a separate activity that is a non value-added effort with objectives contrary to lean concepts. Elimination of waste can also be interpreted as the elimination or minimization of risk that adversely affects wasted human resources and lost time from injuries. Lean imperatives of faster, better, and cheaper must encompass the issue of running safer as well.
Safety Lean Manufacturing – Top 5 ways to Combine Them
1. Eliminate Overproduction to Reduce Unnecessary Interaction with Machines
One important focus for lean manufacturing is the elimination of over production. While this is mainly done to help eliminate waste, it will also make for a safer facility because people won’t be working on the machines as much. Any interaction with the machine is an opportunity for an accident, so this is a good move for safety too.
Look also at the fact that when people are spending more hours working at a machine, they are likely to be more fatigued, which increases the risk for accidents and injuries.
2. Listening to Employees Improvement Ideas
One of the trademarks of a good lean manufacturing program is that it encourages the management teams to listen closer to the front line employees, who likely have ideas on how to improve processes. With safety lean manufacturing, the same holds true.
Many employees will have great ideas on how they can improve the safety of the facility, and when the process is in place, they can share them and have them implemented so that everyone can enjoy the benefits.
3. Reducing Inventory
When people think about reducing the inventory that is stored in a facility because of the lean strategies, they often only look at the benefits the company will get financially. Reducing inventory means better cash flow, and improving the speed at which customers are able to get what they need. In reality, however, you’ll also get some key safety benefits.
For example, when there are fewer things that are being stored within a facility, they don’t need to be stacked up on high shelves. This can reduce the risk of something falling, or someone getting injured when attempting to get things off of the high shelves.
4. Reducing Excess Motion
Many accidents and injuries occur when products or parts are being transported through the facility. These often require the use of vehicles like high-lows or forklifts, which can cause hazards. By reducing the amount of excess motion within the facility, you are essentially reducing the number of opportunities for injury.
You can also work on reducing the hazards associated with any required motion by putting down floor marking tape (which you can find here) in order to help ensure everyone is staying where they are supposed to be. This type of tape is a great safety lean manufacturing tool that can help improve the overall safety of the facility.
5. Reducing Defects
Finding ways to reduce the number of defects that are produced is a great way to lower waste in a facility. In addition, it will raise the overall safety level. Any time there is a defect it will require that someone, or even multiple people, have to go outside the established processes in order to get it fixed or keep it from happening again.
Going outside of normal processes often results in increased risk of injury. In addition, defective parts or products often have sharp edges or other hazards that can result in injuries. Finding ways to reduce defects will benefit the company and the safety.
Safety Lean Manufacturing
As you go through each lean technique, it is easy to see how it will help improve safety as well as reduce waste. Sometimes this will happen naturally, and other times you may need to specifically add the safety portion into the lean processes. Either way, implementing a safety lean manufacturing culture to your facility will benefit your company in many ways.