You probably implemented Lean Management and Lean Solutions to reduce waste and boost productivity. This implementation can also benefit your workplace safety.

Waste of any kind, whether related to materials or excess operator movement, wastes money. It can also reduce safety. Your work floor visually represents your material handling, your safety procedures and your management practices. If you use Kaizen management technique to improve your lean systems, then you regularly spot problems while walking your manufacturing floor. Let C Tek Lean Solutions help you solve those related to material handling and safety.

Common Problems
The Kaizen Method reveals many problems early on, allowing the manager to address issues before they grow, enabling continuous improvement. Simple solutions often prove the best. While surveying your work floor in operation, look for the following indicators you need to update your methods and implement the suggested solutions to continuously improve your material handling systems.

Employees shift weight foot to foot.
Shifting of weight tends to increase when an individual’s feet or legs grow tired. If Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OSHA) allow a mat or cushioned flooring in the standing area, install one. Grippy floor mats adhere to the flooring and the right material can help reduce slip and fall incidents.

Employees must leave their workstations for materials or supplies.
If practical, keep the main storage where it is stationed and install modular racks or shelves above specific work areas. Place supplies within arm’s reach to keep it ergonomic and stock it with enough supplies for a normal day’s productivity. One refill trip at shift change or the end of the day saves time and increases employee productivity.

Foot traffic and equipment traffic accidentally play chicken.
Not only should your foot traffic always remain in a different lane than your mobile equipment, but walkways should be marked according to safety and for use. Use this color guide to appropriately mark floors with flooring tape:

Black and White Stripes: Operational areas that must remain clear for proper function, but not compliance or safety.
Blue/Green/Black: Any components or materials whether finished, raw or work-in-progress;
Orange: materials or products awaiting inspection.
Photo-luminescent: Mark all steps, the perimeter and escape/exit routes in case of a power failure/lights-out emergency; tube lights on railings help ensure safety.
Red: Marks areas for defective, red tag, rework and scrap items.
Red and White Stripes: areas that must remain clear for compliance or safety reasons, such as those in front of electrical panels or firefighting and safety equipment.
White: General work areas such as workstations, equipment and fixtures.
Yellow: Denote aisles, equipment/tube lanes, work cells; use arrows to indicate direction and graphics for pedestrian or equipment.
Yellow and Black Stripe: Health or physical hazard exposure areas.

One way of implementing lean methods on the work floor is walking the work space or production facility to spot the little problems and rectify them to foster continuous improvement. Another helpful aid is the free OSHA Small Business Handbook. The solutions provided in this handbook can be used to determine safe handling methods that reduce employee sick days, ergonomic work solutions, efficient placement designs for modular racks and shelves, etc.

Although it is not normally thought of as a source of lean systems ideas, it does qualify as a material handling systems expert. Let Kaizen management methods and lean safety research improve your work floor productivity and safety.