By its very nature, lean strategies of all kinds result in a safer workplace. Rather than having safety result as a byproduct of lean, however, you can flush out more opportunities for lean improvements by exploring your safety issues. While you’re examining process, flow, communication, and the waste therein, remember to take a close look at where your workers are at risk for injury.
Manual handling is the most common cause of workplace injury. Any manager would clearly want to avoid injury and not cause harm to any of his or her employees. However, beyond the physical effects on the employee, there are numerous ways that physical strain and injuries negatively impact your workflow. Finding safer measures will reduce numerous types of waste.
When an employee is performing a task that is notorious for causing injury, like pushing/pulling or lifting, before the injury takes place, the body becomes fatigued. This makes the body physically incapable of doing the same level of work as the day goes on. It also creates mental strain, resulting in a greater risk for serious mistakes.
Issue: ergonomics and manpower
Any task that is not set up to allow a worker to move as naturally and effortlessly as possible puts him/her at risk for injury as well as being slow. If a heavy item requires multiple people to stop their work and pitch in, you have a halt in the workflow. If the employee is behind, he or she may take unnecessary risks to catch up, further increasing the likelihood of injury and product damage.
Forklifts present numerous safety issues and also unnecessary waiting. Replacing horizontal tasks with other equipment, like a power tug, can hasten the process and make the environment safer for all. It also can improve the overall flow of work and cut out unnecessary wait time.
The important issue with safety is, of course, employee well-being. Outside of lean, if an injury actually does occur, you are also looking at costs related to labor, workers’ compensation, insurance hikes, and manpower. Even if work doesn’t slow down because of safety issues, avoiding an injury is in everyone’s best interest.
The battery-operated power tug mentioned above is a popular solution to safety risks, and it has been proven extremely beneficial in lean manufacturing. The tugs empower workers to accomplish more in less time with almost no risk of injury. A tug and cart system has numerous applications for any manufacturing environment. If you want to save money, eliminate waste, and improve safety, talk to Load Mover Inc. about where a power tug could make the greatest impact for you. 952-767-1720; firstname.lastname@example.org.