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What is 6S Lean?

Learn about the importance of implementing 6S Lean in the workplace

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6S Lean: 5S + Safety

6S (otherwise known as 5S + Safety) is a system that aims to promote and sustain a high level of productivity and safety throughout a workspace. While adhering to the 5S principle of Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, the 6S method adds the concept of Safety. 6S not only helps organizations promote efficient working environments but also establishes a sustainable culture of safety.

The 6 S’s in 6S Lean

  1. Sort (Seiri) – often called “red tagging” where items and materials not needed for work are removed.
  2. Set in order (Seiton) – this step deals with organizing tools, equipment, and other items by grouping them based on their function, putting labels, and placing them in accessible areas so that workers can easily reach them when needed.
  3. Shine (Seiso) – includes activities like cleaning the workplace, maintaining its pleasant appearance, and using preventive steps to keep workspaces tidy and clean.
  4. Safety – the additional step which focuses on identifying hazards and setting preventive controls to keep workers safe during work operations. Use a digital safety checklist to identify common warehouse and manufacturing hazards.
  5. Standardize (Seiketsu) – is the method of establishing a new workplace norm by providing visual reminders, setting expectations of workers’ responsibility, and conducting routine inspections and regular site checks.
  6. Sustain (Shitsuke) – the long term goal and most challenging step of the 6S method where standardized procedures must be continuously applied until it becomes habitual.

Why Safety in 6S?

Safety should always be the topmost priority in every workplace. A safe working environment positively affects productivity and quality. A safe workplace creates a stress-free and healthy atmosphere where all workers feel safe and secure. A clean and organized workplace can also make it easy to recognize and control potential hazards.

The first step to safety is identifying existing hazards and those which are likely to be present in the workplace. All employees must be aware of the different types of workplace hazards and evaluate these hazards through risk assessments or a Job Safety Analysis (JSA). These prerequisite methods carry out standard safety procedures and necessary controls to reduce or eliminate these hazards.

Workers should also wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as an additional protection to hazards which are difficult to control or can not be eliminated. PPE includes hard hats, safety goggles, face masks, insulated gloves, slip-resistant boots, and a lot more. The use of PPE must be checked and other safety protocols must be disseminated to all workers through training and toolbox meetings.

Achieving 100% safety is never an easy task, but through incorporating safety to the original 5S method—and kaizen, you can help improve working conditions in your organization. Workers can not only focus on completing tasks for the day but can also habitually contribute to the overall workplace safety.

Implement and Audit 6S in your Workplace

Make your workplace clean and safe! Do it the 6S way! Get started by downloading these free 5S and 6S use cases for the iAuditor mobile app.

Use iAuditor the world’s #1 Inspection App for your 6S Audits

iAuditor gives you the flexibility to power any inspection you require – onsite, underground, and across the globe. Inspect construction sites, restaurants inspections for food safety, conduct temperature checks, pre-flight checks, toolbox talks and more. It is the mobile forms inspection solution for all industries.


Sare Hawes

SafetyCulture staff writer