Lean and Safety – Stop, Look & Point

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:

  1. Stop…walking…so you can focus on your surroundings
  2. Look…in all directions of vehicle traffic including both ways on a one way lane 
  3. 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.


Chris Barnes is the Supply Chain Doctor and part of the APICS Coach network. He holds a B.S., Industrial Engineering with an Economics Minor, from Bradley University, and an MBA with emphasis on Industrial Psychology with Honors from the University of West Florida. He is one of the few people in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS.

For more information on how WMS Software can transform your business, download our “Business Case Development” whitepaper here.