The practice of combining safety and lean production methods has been embraced in many industries today. Traditionally, safety and lean manufacturing practices were seen as independent from each other. According to safety and lean manufacturing articles, these two areas are now considered to be interdependent. As such, workers are encouraged to observe safety and while maximizing production. Lack of safety in an organization can limit the organization’s ability to embrace lean manufacturing systems. Moreover, improving the organization’s systems also enhances the safety of the workplace.
Recognizing the effects of safety
Safety is a product of value addition. On the other hand, most hazards or safety risks in an organization come from wastes. To a lean practitioner, almost all forms of waste have a direct effect on safety. For instance, defects have the effect of increasing maintenance activities and exposure to different hazards. Over processing also exposes your employees to unnecessary machine interactions, which make them susceptible to injuries.
In any industrial setting, safety statistics can be used to evaluate the performance of efficiency of the company. Using both safety and lean manufacturing procedures enables you to get to the cause of inefficiencies in the project from a process level. So, when the improvement team sets out to collect data, they also shed some light on areas that are not safe. From data gathered, you get to identify areas with potential hazards and enables the management to focus on areas that need to be improved.
Safety by design
The primary objective of any lean manufacturing and safety system is to develop a safe process right from the start. As such, you get to combine the lean manufacturing principles with some safety control measures. For instance, you can do this by adopting administrative controls, elimination, substitution, and engineering controls within the context of the lean manufacturing program. For instance, before buying protective clothing for employees, you can start by redesigning and optimizing the layout, and eliminate potential safety hazards in the process.
Implementation of lean manufacturing and safety standards should be a gradual process. Adopting a systematic approach is recommended for companies that are integrating the two for the first time or those that practiced them separately. When implementing this combination, you need to consider things like the organization’s culture, safety regulations, and the expectations. The food thing about the integrating safety with lean manufacturing is that it allows the management to speak the same language and solve problems together.