Lean Safety and Health Management Principles

Definition of Lean Safety and Health Management

Lean can be defined as a systematic approach to determining and minimizing different types of wastes in a manufacturing process, including waiting, overproduction, defects, and inefficient processing among others.

Lean safety in organizations can be discussed as a systematic approach to managing these types of waste in order to guarantee effective and safe processes with the focus on minimizing and preventing accidents and incidents.

Occupational health management is a systematic approach to controlling safety risks associated with harming employees’ health. The focus is on improving performance and guaranteeing the protection of workers’ health (McKinnon, 2013).

Townley Manufacturing Co., Inc., as a company specializing in producing slurry and submersible pumps, valves, cast foundry products, and other similar products, involves manufacturing processes and operations which should be properly monitored to guarantee employees’ safety. The application of lean safety and health management systems can be viewed as a solution for Townley Manufacturing.

Why Occupational Safety and Health Management Should Be Valued?

The key principle related to the lean safety and health management is that safety in the workplace must be valued by leaders.

Safety principles should be applied to practice in an organization in order to guarantee employees’ health protection and avoid injuries.

Safety principles should be realized as the part of lean operations in order to ensure that they are followed directly, without being declared only in policies (Hafey, 2014).

Employees should feel that they are protected in order to be productive and motivated.

Lean Management Systems, Techniques, and Metrics to Improve Safety

Lean management systems allow for the effective administration of manufacturing operations with the focus on minimizing accidents, injuries, overtime work, and employees’ burnout to guarantee the continuous improvement of processes and employees’ safety.

Lean management techniques include 5S, Kaizen events, Six Sigma, autonomation, and preventive techniques among others. They are generally oriented to decreasing wastes while standardizing a workflow, improving operations, providing training, and controlling resources among other approaches. As a result, negative impacts of manufacturing processes on employees, their health, and safety become minimized because of the effective modification of a manufacturing process (Hafey, 2014).

Another key principle of this system is the monitoring of key performance indicators with the help of lean metrics which visually demonstrate changes in performance, processes, and safety and help motivate employees.

Kaizen Events, 5S, and Six Sigma Techniques

Kaizen events are processes oriented to improving outcomes. They include meetings, the process of mapping operations, intense activities directed to achieving certain goals, and the process of controlling procedures. They are implemented by teams during several days.

5S (sort, set-in-order, shine, standardize, sustain) is a technique used to standardize operations and make them organized, while decreasing the number of unnecessary motions, movements in the workplace, reducing distances, and eliminating barriers to improve productivity.

Six Sigma is a lean technique oriented to defining, determining, and eliminating defects in processes and settings (McKinnon, 2013).

Applicability of Lean and Quality Management Tools to Safety

Kaizen events should be applied to improve safety. It is important to start with planning activities for a Kaizen safety team and assessing safety risks, cases of injuries, and accident trends. The next step is the realization of preventive activities, and the final stage includes safety audits.

To improve safety, 5S is one of the most effective lean techniques: all operations become standardized, equipment is sorted, processes are organized to guarantee safe motions and appropriate distances and prevent possible injuries, address hazards, and eliminate the number of blind spots.

Six Sigma is appropriate to improve safety in an organization through identifying employees’ unsafe behaviors and defects in equipment and proposing strategies to address these aspects to improve the situation.

Lean Tools for Analyzing and Preventing Accidents and Incidents

Lean management techniques and tools can also be used to analyze and prevent accidents and incidents in the workplace. These tools allow for identifying and analyzing causal factors and areas which should be improved in order to guarantee safety. It is very important to analyze what aspects of a manufacturing process are hazardous and cause accidents and incidents. The application of lean tools allows for creating a safe environment with fewer threats to employees’ health (McKinnon, 2013).

Rearranging Safety Culture

The key principle of lean management in relation to safety culture in organizations is to make it more protective of employees. Rearranging safety culture means adding the concept of safety to the values respected by the company; formulating clear principles of safety; using resources for improving safety technologies to avoid wastes; providing safety training for employees on a regular basis; involving employees in a lean process of following safety norms in the workplace. While changing a safety culture according to the principles of lean management, it is possible to decrease the number of accidents and increase productivity (McKinnon, 2013).

Discipline Policies

When employees do not adhere to workplace safety norms, they demonstrate risky behaviors which can become causes of accidents. Employees need discipline policies which are related to safety and formulated according to the principles of lean management (Hafey, 2014). Discipline policies should include the information regarding inappropriate, risky, hazardous, and prohibited behaviors, violations, and disciplinary actions. In addition, safety policies should reflect expected positive behaviors. To motivate employees to follow discipline policies, it is important to provide training and ensure that all guidelines are clear.

Lean-Focused Safety Policy Statement

A lean-focused safety policy statement is one of the key components of a lean management system. This statement includes the information regarding the company’s policy, management, supervision, a safety committee, and employees’ roles. The company’s policy should be oriented to guaranteeing a safe workplace and preventing injuries and accidents. Management of safety-oriented and lean processes should also be explained in the statement.

It is also necessary to mention persons responsible for supervising the process of following safe-work practices and a safety committee responsible for proposing improvements in a lean safety system. Roles of employees in safety management need to be explained in the statement to determine their responsibilities (McKinnon, 2013).

Stakeholders’ Responsibility for Safety and Health

The major principle of lean safety management is that stakeholders, including employees, should be aware of their responsibility for their health and safety, as well as health of their coworkers if employees demonstrate unsafe behaviors. Each employee should follow safe work practices and avoid potentially risky behaviors. Each employee is expected to report situations that are threatening to health of workers. Each employee should report potential hazards associated with using equipment. Moreover, employees are responsible for preventing accidents and injuries and reporting such cases immediately (Hafey, 2014).

Roadblocks to the Implementation of Lean Principles

Barriers to implementing lean principles in an organization include employees’ resistance, the partial implementation of processes, the lack of time to adapt to a new system, the lack of practice, and the lack of employee training. If employees do not understand the purpose of changes in a safety system and do not receive training, they resist these improvements. To overcome these barriers, organizations need to accentuate the purpose of a lean safety system for employees, emphasize their responsibility, offer training, and provide time and resources to adapt to changes (McKinnon, 2013). Furthermore, it is important to guarantee that all principles of the system are fully implemented to guarantee that the system will produce positive effects.


While being implemented in an organization, the presented lean safety and health management principles guarantee that the number of injuries, accidents, and incidents will decrease, and a workplace becomes safe and comfortable. This systematic approach is directed toward long-term improvements. As a result, positive outcomes include safety and increases in the quality of performance and productivity.


Hafey, R. B. (2014). Lean safety Gemba walks: A methodology for workforce engagement and culture change. New York, NY: CRC Press.

McKinnon, R. C. (2013). Changing the workplace safety culture. New York, NY: CRC Press.

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