Learn from the Masters – Why Optimation Has 458 Days Without a Time-Loss Safety Incident
And how we continue to improve to keep adding days to our record.
458 Days without a time-loss safety incident marks an essential milestone for the 200 tradespeople and engineers working with Re:Build Manufacturing. Safety, organization, and cleanliness ultimately save everyone time and money. Savvy customers see value in working with a visibly clean and safe company. It is professionalism and cleanliness which is an outward expression of our pride, respect, and commitment to quality that displays how we value our work at Optimation.
We have had our 200 tradespeople and engineers working hard for over a year since a time-loss incident. Bill Pollock has expressed that other companies suffering from safety lapses look to Optimation’s success for guidance as they know Optimation correlates with safe manufacturing. The record without incidents at Re:Build Manufacturing was 800+ days which is a truly remarkable feat in the world of manufacturing. Now, 458 days without an incident is an excellent sign that we are doing well. Bill said, “When we can be safe for ourselves, then we can help make 458 days safe for our customers as well.” In fact, customers see Re: Build Manufacturing as a leading partner in manufacturing safety services and effective systems such as machine guarding services to improve customer experiences with dangerous devices. Unsafe machine guarding has been one of OSHA’s top ten violations in recent years.
To put safety in a business perspective, consider one slice of the last decade in OSHA activity. In 2015, OSHA violations around machine guarding – JUST MACHINE GUARDING – were at 2,295. Penalties for violations can cost between $7,000 and $700,000. That’s just one year and one category of OSHA oversight! Clearly, keeping OSHA citations away from business expenses makes a real impact on a company’s capacity for growth. Optimation’s impeccable safety record and ability to bring safety to others is a measurable business value.
During Re:Build Manufacturing’s Safety Celebration meeting and 5S+ Safety seminar, Bill Pollock, Optimation’s Director of Operations, introduced his colleagues, Re:Build Manufacturing COO Michael Foley, and CEO Miles Arnone, who each led the celebration and introduced “5S + Safety” training to the Optimation family. 5S+Safety offers critical insights as to why this 458+ day record was no accident and how it can be a lesson to keep Re: Build Manufacturing improving every day.
5s+Safety: A Continuous Improvement Imperative
Michael Foley started 5S + Safety orientation with his presentation on the basics of 5S + Safety and the “Re: Build Way.” 5S refers to professional organizational qualities that imply Safety and continuous improvement principles that are traditionally traced to an origin in Japan within successful manufacturers, specifically Toyota is credited with innovating the 5S-Safety method. Foley explained that Safety in manufacturing was important enough to keep the whole word separate from the 5S title system and not merely imply it.
5S stands for an organizational methodology that derives its five “S words” from the Japanese language in which each step indeed begins with “S”. In Japanese, these words are:
There are now five English S-words to help us learn the method more easily. The English equivalent of the five S’s of 5S-Safety are arguably quite close to the original Japanese meaning, but as you’ll see later, their depth of meaning only comes out through studying 5S-Safety. In English, these terms are, in order:
- Straightening (organizing),
- Standardizing, and
- Sustaining (responsibly repeating the process).
This 5-step methodology is a simple, easily understood rubric for how a safe manufacturing environment can be built and sustained. Optimation clearly does all these things, but the beauty of the 5S simplicity that Mike Foley introduced in our Safety in Manufacturing Celebration will serve to extend our safety record well into the future. Let’s dig into what we learned:
The First S: Sorting
Sorting calls to mind the notion of categorizing and if this is what you thought of, you’re very close to correct. And, as you’d likely agree, having a workplace sorted out and organized provides productivity enhancement. The key to 5S Sorting is that it is a mode of culling distractions. According to Michael Foley, the general principle of sorting is “if you don’t need something – sort it out of the workspace.” Sorting controls necessary items in your workspace. It can be challenging for some individuals who like old tools and outdated equipment to sort through and decide what stays and what goes, but it is essential to achieving an organized workspace.
Image sourced from Re:Build Manufacturing 5S+Safety Training
When sorting, there is a process of tagging. Red tagging is a sorting system we use for logging tools and items, not in use. This sorting system schedules when a device is ready to be recycled, sold, or discarded. Making this a part of our 5S training is how we build upon each S of 5S to bring the most efficiency into the workplace. This sorting system is one example that helps new hires learn and adapt to our processes and keeps everyone commonly linked to a proper procedure to eliminate wasted space and time in the workplace.
The Second S: Straightening
Why straighten after sorting? Straightening aims to simplify the work by putting things where they need to be and making that placement purposeful, different from sorting junk from your valuable equipment. When you have things sorted, you can start formalizing the layout of straightening workshops since all the debris has been cleared and put away by the sorting training. A simple example of proper straightening is having fire extinguishers clear and accessible. Keeping trash or debris from emergency exits is an excellent example of the safety benefits of straightening.
Straightening may be a labeling system for tools and workspace markings that label safe spaces, workspaces, and dangerous spaces. Tape on the floor for consistently safe and easy-to-read alignment for work to be done in a specific area is a simple example of straightening or organizing the work order of a shop. Another benefit of straightening is that you don’t waste any time looking for stuff in the shop. Straightening can use purposeful labels and color-coded workspaces and equipment. Straightening with a color code can delineate the progress of the work completion status of a project or product. These marking systems are valuable because once your whole factory is marked out, someone who’s seen the system at work will know what’s going on in the entire factory. Clear labels give everyone a visual indicator to help everyone identify real problems instead of wasting time.
The Third S: Shining
After straightening, the third S of 5S is Shining or cleanliness. Shining can be as simple as putting on fresh paint in a workspace. Shining shows ownership that announces pride and dignity to your quality of work and environment. Cleanliness impresses customers and is a powerful way to make an impression of quality. Suppose you spend the extra time keeping the workspace clean. A clean, sparkling presentation shows a customer that you consider your work environment essential. The process of shining a workspace demonstrates the perceived value of quality work. When a place is shined, you know it, and that’s why powerhouse manufacturers like Toyota, who follow 5S, are known for their cleanliness. 5S is how Re: Build Manufacturing can further build upon our stellar safety reputation using 5S. Cleanliness shows respect and value at the beginning and end of a process.
The Fourth S: Standardization
Next, standardization. Standards keep the order of systems and processes. Standardization gets everyone involved. It helps everyone know they are responsible for a piece of the process. Standard safety procedures keep everyone on track during a work process. The goal of this step is the construction of an authoritative reference that all team members can align to. When everyone knows the rhyme and reason of a standard procedure, their understanding establishes order and improves efficiency. Measurements are great examples of standards. Work and tools follow standardized weight, space, and time measurements.
The Fifth S: Sustain
The whole system of 5S builds on itself to sustain habits. The goal of Sustain in the 5S system is to keep everyone responsible for continuously improving their work environment and improving their quality of work. Continuously improving and doing better is part of the Re:Build Way.
5S + Safety
Finally, we return to the word Safety. Some manufacturing training introduces this as the 6th S – or 6S training. Re:Build Manufacturing has chosen to implement 5S + Safety as a training block to keep everyone on the same page, staying safe. Our consistency, dedication, and adherence to best practices have been key to our safety record. The 5S+Safety methodology succinctly summarizes how consistency and dedication led to an entire year-long stretch without time-loss incidents. Safety is a huge part of that and we keep it separate for that reason.
Following 5S+Safety training is a framework we can all use to help a factory work safely and efficiently. 5S+Safety can maintain quality in all our work. When all 5S starts to take shape in a work environment, it is a sign that the workers care.
It is important to note how one ought to view safety in manufacturing. Safety’s importance in manufacturing absolutely ties to bottom-line realities. Our company, our partners, and clients benefit financially when we’re safe. The simple fact that each worker has no downtime due to injury is enough to explain how valuable safety is, but safety is also the right thing to do. This is certainly the softer side of the business, but wouldn’t you agree that operating a safe environment is both a kindness and a right for fellow humans? Our people aren’t just cogs in a machine; they are people who care deeply for the wellbeing of each other. We owe it to ourselves and our peers to continue to have a stellar safety record because of all the good things that safety brings to the table. 5S+Safety as a methodology is about human care as much as it is about business
Lastly, some might say, “Well, if it’s not broken, why fix it?” in relation to our newfound appreciation for 5S-Safety. Certainly, if we have a habit of being safe for such long periods of time, we have done the right things, however, we are keenly aware of Xeno’s paradox. The philosopher Xeno posited that one will never arrive at their destination if they always go halfway. The idea is that every time you reach halfway to a point there’s always halfway more to go. And, while we’re also aware of the limitations of this philosophical analogy in real-life application it is worth remembering that safety is so important that we ought to always see ourselves as halfway to our goal so that we never let up. We can never relax about safety because it is that important and this is precisely why 5S-Safety is so exciting.
Here’s to the never-ending journey of continuous improvement in safety.
If your company needs help with leadership in safety – from concepts to applications of safety design and implementation – you owe it to the great humans of your organization to contact us. We live safely, believe in it wholeheartedly, and will help you achieve it.