Safety and Lean can and should go hand in hand. I recently did a lean tour of a large distribution center. Along with seeing many lean process ideas I learned they had a strong focus on employee safety. For instance, one thing everyone did (and we received training pre-tour) was the practice of Stop, Look and Point before crossing an active equipment travel aisle. The general guidelines of Stop, Look and Point are:
- Stop…walking…so you can focus on your surroundings
- Look…in all directions of vehicle traffic including both ways on a one way lane
- Point…after making eye contact with any lift driver(s), use visual pointing to:
- indicate which way both/all are intending to go,
- indicate who is yielding right of way and
- confirm the pedestrian(s) given right of way proceeds
This is an easy, low-cost way to improve safety for employees. Click here to see a video of the concept in action.
On a trip to England to observe warehouse practices, I learned all employees and guests in the warehouse are required to wear safety vests to make them more visible to equipment drivers. While this is a regulation in England, I expect it is something you could easily do in your operations to help ensure employee safety.
Focusing on safety in the warehouse should be part of a continuous improvement culture and result in lower cost for the company and a better, safer work environment for employees.