OSEA Safety Blog

Now is a Great Time to '5S' Your Office

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 Brenda Griffin

With many office staff heading back to their offices after months of working remotely from home, now is the perfect time to do some housekeeping utilizing the five S (5S) framework.

Many of you may already be utilizing this system of management, also known as “lean,” as it is common in manufacturing settings. Yet the rest of us can also benefit from adopting these 5 simple principles in our workspaces.

What is 5S?

5S is a systematic form of visual management that can be applied to just about every space! When there is order along with a system to maintain it, there is a reduction in slips, trips, and falls, safety non-compliance, and clutter in general, as well as ease of maintaining cleanliness and productivity. The purpose of the system goes beyond housekeeping, however, to include work process efficiency while reducing various types of waste (like excess movement and time.)

5S includes five terms that all start with the letter "S”. It refers to five Japanese terms used to describe the steps of the 5S system of visual management. It was first implemented by the Toyota Motor Corporation.

In Japanese, the five S's are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. In English, the five S's are translated as Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

What do each of the 5S steps mean?

Sort – Sort through materials, keeping only what is essential to the space and tasks performed in it. Anything that is not used to complete a work task or process should be removed from the space.

Set in order – Make sure all items are organized and each item has a designated place.

Shine – Proactive efforts to keep the workspace areas clean and orderly to ensure purpose-driven work. This means cleaning and maintaining the newly organized workspace! It can involve routine tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, filing papers, etc., or performing maintenance of machinery, tools, or other equipment.

Standardize -- Create a set of standards for both the organization and the processes. So basically, this is where you take the first three S’s and make rules for how and when tasks will be performed. Standards may include schedules and lists.

Sustain – Sustain new practices and conduct audits to maintain discipline. To maintain the system and the order and function started, all the steps must continue over time to maintain the benefits.

There is also a sixth S known as “safety”! That’s because implementing the 5S system often results in a safer workplace in addition to safety being a component embedded in each of the 5S steps.

Either way, spring is a great time to get organized and level up your workspace – whether you’re returning to the office or need a simple office refresh.

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