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A simple 5 step approach for a cleaner, safer and lean work environment – the 5S System

Housekeeping is essential to a healthy and safe environment and we at Safic use the 5S system to help us to achieve this.




The 5S system was originally developed in Japan and has been adopted worldwide, in various forms, by major corporations as part of their systems. The S’s have been translated from the original Japanese and I have included the original words in brackets.


1. Sort (seiri):

In the work area, we sort through items, evaluate them to determine if they are necessary, and remove the unnecessary items. The items that should be removed are removed as soon as possible and those items that cannot be quickly removed are clearly tagged to identify them in order to be removed later. In this way, we free up space, we remove obstacles making the environment safer and we make it easier and simpler to inspect the environment and manage the remaining items.


2. Set in order (seiton)

We now put the remaining necessary items in the most suitable place to ensure that work can proceed smoothly and easily.

This can be done by ensuring that the relevant tools and equipment are directly available and in logical order at a workstation. The most frequently used items should be the most accessible.

Make these locations fixed so that the items are returned to the same places.


Fig1: This Vikan shadow board ensures that the utensils are stored in the correct place.


3. Shine (seiso)

Now we should regularly clean, sweep, and inspect the workplace, tools, and machinery. The workplace should be cleaned frequently and regularly with the appropriate products and equipment. This keeps the workplace safe and easy to work in and improves the process efficiency and safety, reduces waste, prevents errors.


Once everything is clean, anyone, even someone who does not usually work there, should be able to spot a problem. This reduces risks substantially.


Contact us at Safic to assist in identifying the correct cleaning products and utensils.



Fig 2: Identifying the correct products for cleaning is essential to the process.


4. Standardize (seiketsu)

These processes should now be standardized. This is done with easy-to-understand procedures, work instructions, and checklists.

In this way, everyone knows their responsibilities and the process becomes sustainable. There should be regular reviews.


5. Sustain/self-discipline (shitsuke)

Once everything is in place, we would like to ensure it is sustained.

This is achieved through regular training, inspections, and audits. We should always be looking for ways to continually improve. The people directly involved with the process are usually in the best position to identify possible improvements and they should be consulted.


Any problems or non-conformances need to be addressed and time should be taken to identify the root causes that they should be addressed. Time spent on this will save time, reduce costs and increase safety in the future.

This is a process and these steps should be regularly repeated, but with effort, improvement should be constant ensuring an efficient, healthy, and safe environment where people would be happy to work.





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