Safety:The first priority

The best lean people have a thinking way that prioritises what they look for and worry about. It starts with safety, everyone going home with the same number of fingers and toes they came with. This is... the first priority



Tip 8 Really interesting this on safety.  each area understands its own specific risks it’s really easy to understand the risk in the whole factory, the chance of being mowed down by a fork lift truck or general trips and slips but areas differ from place to place so if you have a factory for example that does injection moulding and assembly there are very different specific risks there for example injection moulding you’re likely to have granular on the floor so there is a  very real risk of tripping and slipping over that you're also going to have a hot barrel so you don’t want to be touching that they'll be purge on the side of the machines or, hopefully not, but maybe on the floor that’s very very hot. Then you also have the setters the people who do the tool changes and Die changes in in a mould shop they often have to work at height so there’s a real risk of working at height and slipping off there. Compare that to assembly and assembly have got very very different risks, you’ve got possibly tripping over mats you’ve got some tool risk you’ve maybe even got some catching or trapping of your fingers in certain things but either way whatever your process paint assembly moulding welding whatever there are very very different risks so be specific. You can only  counter measure specific things


Tip 9 again we're still on safety if you were to pareto the accidents for the factory, all the near misses or incidents, you will quite often find that a lot of them are to do with headbangs and also ankle bangs or trips and slips so focus your attention on where people might end knocking into things, bang their heads or catch themselves on the cupboard or alternatively where they might trip over the edge of pallets or things sticking out of gangways or slip on oil leaks or water leaks quite often you'll see people slipping and tripping when they are going outside of the 5s rules that cutting across cells which is one of the reasons why we want to walk around factories along the gangways at right angles. It keeps us safe


Tip 10 This is going to be one of the shortest of these tips and that's for a reason, for impact. Forklift trucks, materials handling equipment, the only people who should be operating those bits of kit should have a certificate, in date that shows they can. You are most likely to die in a factory on the forks of a four lift so the people driving them need to be trained and trained very well not to mention the pedestrians around them need to be aware of what's going on


Tip 11 final one of the safety tips on the 50 tips people wear the correct workwear and PPE it's pretty obvious you might think that we need to wear PPE and lots of people know about “I need safety boots or I need glasses” so that should first level your entry level if you like but workwear is as it is for a reason if you wear polo shirts and you want them tucked in if it's part of your rules to tuck them in, there’s a reason for that to avoid being pulled into machinery or to catching them and being dragged into stuff but beyond that surface level stuff terms of ppe is it obvious what people should be wearing so when do I need to wear hearing protection in a factory there should be some kind of indicator on the on the floor you don't need to post lots and lots of posts up about general exhortations on safety but make it clear what you should have on for safety so it should be a mix of general rules and then notification when you're going into specific area but the key one of all of them is the SOP (standard operating procedure) should let you know how to make a good part safely for the cycle time so you gotta specify exactly what safety equipment you need don't be vague.

Know your risks

It's a tricky one this because lots of people do risk assessments and lots of businesses have them because they have to have them. A so called tick box of legal requirements.  Yet they are so much more than this. Use them as a living tool to not only to safeguard your people but to improve the process.   Try to avoid have risk assessments that are too generic or having one risk assessment that covers lots of operations.  Instead, base it on observation of actual risks in the area and make sure it's close to reality.  It's not a one off activity either you don't do it and file it away, it should be a live process that feeds back in to improve the safety of your people. Keep it simple and  make sure this based on what you actually see.

Have specific safety risks, don't be vague

To get the most out of your daily walk treat it as a coaching opportunity, take somebody with you. Not so that you can just chirp at them for 10-15 minutes but so that you can ask some questions: 

  • What do you think of this?

  • What do you like about that?

  • What don't you like about that?

You can coach and walk, multiple benefits

Look at how people are working

As you walk around, pause and watch somebody working. Take a look at what they're are doing and how they're doing it: 

  • Are they bending?

  • Are they stretching or overreaching?

  • Can you see obvious ergonomic issues?

It's your chance to see if your people are working safely or if you are over burdening them, making simple interventions can make someones job much easier.

Ask 4 magic questions

It's all too easy to walk the factory and not bother engaging with the people doing their job. This might sound simple but as you walk engage and ask four magic questions that are really useful to see how well you've set the operation up for them

  1. How do you do this work?

  2. How do you know you're doing it correctly?

  3. How do you know the outcome will be defect free?

  4. What do you do if you have a problems?

These four questions and the answers that you listen to will tell you everything you need to know about how strong your standardised work is and how well it's being trained.

Problem follow up sheets

You’re likely to have improvement follow up sheets (or by a different name problem follow up sheets/problem and countermeasure sheets) on the shop floor which your team leaders/cell leaders/group leaders are using to manage how they closeout issues and problems and Kaizen. Stop at some of these stop at least one and have a look at how it's being used is it up to date is it being filled in in different pens different handwriting are things being closed are things being owned by people?

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Problem follow up sheets