What is 6S lean?

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construction management

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6S Lean is basically all five of the steps within 5S, as well as the inclusiveness of safety.  Therefore, 6S is also a system that promotes and sustains higher levels of productivity, while also enhancing the safety aspect in any workplace.

The Six S’s in 6S Lean

  1. Sort
  2. Set in Order
  3. Shine
  4. Safety
  5. Standardize
  6. Sustain

Descriptions of Each of the S’s in 6S Lean


When you take the time to sort through your tools and equipment, you can red tag and remove those items that are either broken or damaged, as well as those that you will not be using.

Set in Order

Once you know exactly which tools and equipment you will be using at the job site, you can organize them all in a way that works best for you and your employees.  It is recommended that you group them according to their function, take the time to label them, and put them all in areas that makes everything easily accessible.


While keeping like items together and placing them where you can easily find them are a step in the right direction, it is also helpful to keep things clean.  That is where the Shine part comes into play within the 6S Lean.  This is when you will clean your workplace before maintaining a nice appearance and creating preventative measures to keep it this way forever.


Safety is the one step that is not included within 5S, but it is the one that makes 6S Lean a much better system.  It is during this step that you will identify any hazards around your workplace and create preventative measures to keep those hazards from returning in the future.  This is very important, because it will keep all your employees safe as they are performing their jobs.  It is usually best to have a digital checklist to identify common hazards, while also adding those not so common ones you may have as well.


When you take the time to standardize all the changes you are making, you are ensuring that no one forgets these new practices.  Visual reminders are nice, because they allow you to see what needs to be accomplished at a glance.  This is also an excellent time to establish routine inspections, as well as regular site checks.


In order to sustain all these new procedures, you must keep doing them over and over again until they become habits.  It is only then that you will be guaranteed sustainability when it comes to this entire system.

Why Should You Include Safety When It Comes to 6S?

As you know, safety is one of the most important aspects in a workplace, so it shouldn’t be surprising that safety was added to the basics of 5S.  After all, a safe workplace has a huge effect on both productivity and quality, while also creating a stress-free and healthy environment for your employees.

Identifying Hazards and How to Avoid Them

One of the first things you should do for the safety aspect of your workplace is identify all the hazards that may be present now, or in the future.  You might even want to make note of any hazards that have happened in the past, so you are aware that they are a possibility for the future as well.

Once you have a complete list of potential hazards, it is time to alert all your employees of what they are.  This is also the time to hold a meeting of your Job Safety Analysis, so everyone is aware of what is being done to prevent these hazards from occurring or at least reducing the possibility of them happening.

Personal Protective Equipment is an excellent first step for some hazards, as it will help your employees and keep them from having problems after being exposed.  A few of the Personal Protective Equipment items include safety goggles, insulated gloves, hard hats, face masks, and slip resistant boots.  All your employees must have access to these items and know how to use them appropriately for the best results.

You may also want to ask your employees if they notice any additional hazards, as they are the people who are moving around the workplace most often.  They may spot hazards that you miss or have ideas of how to make the workplace safer overall.

Main Benefits of 6S Lean

You can probably already tell that the main benefit of 6S Lean is the safety aspect of your business.  This is true since it significantly reduces your risks of accidents, injuries, and even the possibility of death in certain situations.

Resources to Use to Share 6S Lean with Your Employees

There are many different materials that you can use to train your employees on 6S Lean and to share the benefits of using this system.  However, these are the items that we love to use for our employees:

  • Pocket Guides
  • DVDs
  • Books or eBooks
  • Games to Show How Amazing the Benefits Truly are
  • Posters for Visual Reminders

Other Areas 6S Lean Will Work Wonders

While you may think of using 6S Lean on the job site, you can also benefit from using it in your office.  In fact, think of how streamlined your office will be once you utilize this system and you can find everything that you need, when you need it!

The items that can really use the help of 6S Lean include:

  • Filing Cabinets
  • Job Files
  • Samples
  • Desks
  • Sales Brochures
  • Packing Materials
  • PDF Files
  • Contracts
  • Material Lists
  • Subcontractor Information
  • Employee Records

6S Lean is such an amazing system and it will work in any area of your business.  You may think that it is a waste of your time at first, but once you begin to see the results of your hard work, you will be thrilled with the time you have spent on this project.

It is important to remember that results will not be immediate, but you will start to see them slowly appear with the additional time you put in.  Of course, once everything is implemented, you will be spending less time sustaining all your new procedures and more time reaping the rewards.


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