Friday, November 05, 2010

Lean Safety

Can you kaizen a process making productivity gains without using a stopwatch?

Most of us practice and teach the value of data driven improvements however there are ways of getting the same results without clicking a stopwatch. One such kaizen approach is described by Robert Hafey in his book Lean Safety: Transforming your Safety Culture with Lean Management.

While leading a kaizen event, Bob directed the team to leave their stopwatches in their kaizen toolboxes and use direct observation of the process with an eye towards safety. More specifically, the team was trained to look for only four conditions in Gemba: Out of Neutral, Excessive Weight, Straining, and Repetitive Tasks.

Out of Neutral: A condition when one of our body parts are out of the neutral position while performing a work task, i.e. when our arms go above our shoulder, our shoulder joint is out of neutral.

Excessive Weight: When someone moves or lifts a heavy object.

Straining: When someone strains to exert physical force to an object.

Repetitive Tasks: Anytime someone is asked to repeat short duration tasks repetitively.

As the team took note of each occurrence, they brainstormed ways to eliminate the condition. For instance, if they observed the operator lifting a heavy object, they did not reinforce the proper lifting techniques. Instead, they looked for ways to eliminate the need to lift in the first place.

After implementation of these improvements, the job was easier and better which led to productivity gains. The interesting result was the natural evolution from a batch process to one piece flow based on improvement of these ergonomic elements.

Sounds like a simple and focused way to make a job easier and better looking at muri (overburden) versus our traditional viewpoint of always looking for muda (waste)!

In Lean Safety, many of the lean tools like A3, 5S, standard work, poka-yoke, 5 Whys and process mapping are adapted towards improving safety. The tools are not new however the applications towards safety give us a different take in using our lean tools. In addition, Bob has provided many examples and real life experiences from facilitating lean safety kaizen events. Overall, this is a very good book written in an easy to read format with a passion for safety that all lean practitioners can learn from.

For more information on Lean Safety, Bob has a new blog site called Lean Safety which he started posting his thoughts and ideas on continuous improvement focused on safety.

Welcome Bob to the blogging community! And as Bob says. “You can continuously cope or you can continuously improve, the choice is yours.”


Mark R. Hamel said...

Hi Mike,

You sold me! Lean Safety sounds like a worthy and unique work. I'm going to order a copy.

been said...

hey i like to know when the production varied how lean can cope with it ,i m working in a manufacturing facility but the demand and products varied day by day so quick how can i use lean on my job ???????????

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks. This book helped expand my thinking with a safety focus.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi been,

Leveling production is one of the challenges in the lean approach. Ask the questions why demand is varied and how can we level it (perhaps weekly). Work as a team to understand the problem then find countermeasures.