Being Lean Contributes to Improved Safety

Eddie Stokes of Butner wrote me back about my safety note from Tuesday. He thinks our May safety results have more to them than just us paying attention to new guys as they come in the plant.

“I truly believe that lean is having a major impact on safety. Through the last several months of lean I’ve noticed that everyone is working at a different pace than before lean. Before lean we worked in what could be described as a ‘panic’ pace. Now that lean has taken hold and numerous changes have been implemented the pace has slowed to a safer stride. The overall flow is much steadier than before with less stopping. Changeovers are faster. The production numbers are higher but the work has become seemingly easier. I think all of these things equal a safer environment.”

I hadn’t thought about “lean” being the source of greater safety but it makes sense.

To be “lean” is to work with greater intention. It causes us to be more alert to the little details. It teaches us to look at the steps we are taking and eliminate the wasteful ones. Without question, wasteful steps cause injuries. Lack of 6S causes injuries. Failure to be alert causes injuries.

So, I’m OK with giving “lean” some credit for improved safety.

By the way, I appreciate it when you write back or call about these notes. I intend them to be thought provoking. I hope they don’t come off as preaching as much as teaching. I like to know when they resonate but also when you disagree. It makes for a good, transparent dialogue.