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Monday, February 11, 2019

Boost Productivity with Smarter Workplace Safety Workshop

At the beginning of this year I attended a Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) Workshop on Boost Productivity with Smarter Workplace Safety.  The workshop was conducted by CONNSTEP that is a Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) partner that I have worked with many times over the past twenty years.  The training session was led by Matin Karbassioon, CONNSTEP Lean Consultant, and Nick Wallick, Lean Analyst for CT Training and Consulting Institute.

The approach proposed during this workshop is to utilize lean principles and practices currently in use in many manufacturing companies and then incorporate health and safety and sustainability aspects into these standard lean tools.  An example is the Value Stream Mapping tool which is used to define both information and material flow, to identify value-add and non-value-add steps (waste), and opportunities for improvement.  The workshop proposed addition of safety and environmental considerations as part of this process which could be an effective approach if implemented properly and supported by leadership.  An example of a standard product manufacturing view is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Standard VSM Map

The VSM is used to identify opportunities to move from a current state to some improved future state.  The workshop proposes to add safety improvements to this analysis as illustrated below in Figure 2.

Figure 2- VSM with Safety Opportunities

Following this progression in thinking, we can also use the lean tools to analyze current natural resource usages and identify opportunities for improvement.  Figures 3 - 5 illustrate how this approach could be incorporated into the “standard” lean process.

Figure 3 - VSM with EHS Info Added

Figure 4 - VSM with Material Usage Example

Figure 5- VSM Overview with EHS Info

The process mapping approach was discussed in more detail and additional information can be obtained by review of the workshop presentation that is provided as a separate document.

Discussion of this approach included identifying links to safety related to the “8 wastes” of the lean process: Defects, Overproductions, Waiting, Non-utilized people, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Excess Processing.  I’ve summarized some of these relationships in the table below to illustrate the idea.
Waste Type
Links to Safety
1.     Defect prevention requires less work and involves fewer injury exposures than defect discovery and repair
2.     High levels of defects may also signal poor housekeeping and/or lighting which may create other safety issues such as distraction and eye strain
1.     Overproduction indicates that workers may be working faster than needed by the next process, which can increase the risk of a repetitive strain injury.
2.     Making more than is needed may also result in clutter and poor housekeeping and increased number of accidents. (balanced workload based on customer demand rate reduces these risks and decreases the likelihood of increased work in process inventory)
1.     Delays and time wasted due to poor material and information flow can impact employee motivation and increase the risk of falls and overexertion as workers rush to catch up.
Non-utilized People
1.     Risk of complacency and loss of focus when performing monotonous tasks.
1.     Excessive product movement increases exposure to material handling and industrial truck injuries.
Excess Inventory
1.     Excess work in process between operations (due to large lot production or processes with long cycle times) impedes movement, increases the risk of trip hazards, distractions, blind spots for pedestrians and fork lifts, as well as manual handling injuries.
2.     Excess raw material inventory will result in temporary (often unsafe) storage locations creating obstacles to safe movement of employees
1.     Unnecessary motions such as reaching over the head for a tool or searching for one, instead of having it within normal reaching distance, at the point of use, are both wasteful and hazardous.
Excess Processing
1.     Inefficient work flow and extra processing steps such as avoidable reaching, twisting and material handling tasks increase overexertion risks.
2.     Process steps that absolutely add no value to the product of service being provided may help increase EHS risks

Finally, the 5S process was discussed as one of the best means of creating and maintaining conditions favorable to a safe and healthy workplace.  This process has five steps or levels although there is a school of thought that suggests adding a 6th S for “Safety” but careful adherence to the 5S process will result in safety improvements.  The 5S steps are:
Sort – identify and remove clutter
Set (in order) – identify locations for frequently used items and ensure they are kept in their place
Shine – clean and inspect everything inside and out (inspection provides opportunities for improvement)
Standardize – Create rules to maintain the first 3s’s
Sustain – Adherence to the rules and proper training of all workers

National studies show a strong correlation between high incident rates and lean implementations where strong safety programs were not present.

How do you incorporate safety into your lean efforts?

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