The great equalizer in all things is time. The available hours in a workday are finite, and the pressures from external situational realities are always nibbling away at productivity. Sometimes it feels as though we never quite get as much accomplished as we had planned due to small delays and interruptions. Taken individually, those seemingly minor items are not even on the radar screen of operations when compared to the big picture of deadlines, schedules, deliveries, and so forth. Collectively, those same minor items form an aggregate that can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Perhaps the single greatest opportunity for management to demonstrate respect for all employees is through the company’s culture of safety and implementation of 6S in all aspects of the business and construction process. While finding efficiencies and eliminating waste are key aspects for Lean Methodologies, 6S highlights the harmony and interdependence that Safety weaves into the company’s overall culture. All employees need to know that their well-being is the cornerstone of the business. It’s not just about cleaning up the construction site, the work bench, or the maintenance shop. 6S is about saving time and instituting the culture of safety and tangible logistical organization throughout the workplace.
6S leads off with Safety to unite the original five concepts of 5S: Sort, Set-in-Place (or Straighten), Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It is from a Safety lens that the work-place culture can truly demonstrate the importance of establishing and fostering Safety as the umbrella under which all other tasks are utilized to protect workers and create efficiency. Without safety, there can be no meaningful time management; without safety, there can be no long-term structure of operations.
Time management and striving for work-place efficiency have been extant since the dawn of commerce and trade. Processes and equipment have evolved in the quest for increased productivity and output. Success in these areas is remarkable and very impressive. More importantly, these accomplishments are only possible due to enhancing and developing worker safety first in all aspects of the processes and tasks. The construction field continues to advance through embracing technology, rethinking management methodology, and adopting a safety-first structure.
No longer is it enough to simply offer employment opportunities. Today’s employees are keenly aware of an evolving job market that offers more (and alternative) opportunities than ever before. Now, more than ever, construction jobs have to have safety built in rather than being an add-on; all employees need to have the stability and comfort of a work-place culture that is built on employee well-being as the foundation of organization culture.
How can 6S provide this message of the importance of workers and the structure of the company? First, the adoption and implementation of Safety has to be the leading core-value of the organization. It must be the very life blood of the company, the board of directors, senior management and throughout the entire organization. There can be no misunderstanding of the priorities. Worker safety and a culture of safety must be the priorities above all else. All employees have to learn this, accept this, and ultimately live this creed of safety first. It’s not a poster on the wall; it’s a way of life. It’s not telling someone else to go be safe, it is the leaders at all levels demonstrating the safety ethos and leading by example. And without safety, there can be no true cleanliness.
6S isn’t just about cleaning up the construction site. It’s the realization that a clean construction site is a safe workplace. It isn’t just about organizing the work bench and the trucks. It’s the awareness that organization equals efficiency and that directly results in less wasted time and less frustration. 6S is about respect and appreciation for all employees. It is setting the stage for success so that there is a tangible culture of safety, employees know that they matter, and that there are incredible and exponential efficiencies possible through logistical awareness. Strive for a Triple-A rating in Safety and Logistics. It’s not always easy to set up and it’s even more difficult to sustain unless it is the bedrock of the company and woven into the core fabric of the company’s culture.
There is real satisfaction for everyone when the site, the tools and all materials needed are clean, organized, and thoughtfully arranged for efficiency in using them for the tasks as needed. Most importantly, there’s genuine comfort for all employees when all aspects of the company are focused on safety and the purposeful logistics to save time and eliminate frustration. That is the ultimate foundation for profit and employee retention.
 Garbarino, M. (2008) Success with 6S. Air Force News.14 Oct. 2008 [online]. Available at: https://www.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/141831/success-with-6s (Accessed 9 October 2021)
 GnowBeLearn.Com (2021). 6S LEAN Workplace [online]. Available at https://learn.gnowbe.com/mlc/6s-lean-workplace https://learn.gnowbe.com/mlc/6s-lean-workplace (Accessed: 10 October 2021)
 Colorado Department of Transportation (2021). 6S Method. Colorado DOT Business Center [online]. Available at: https://www.codot.gov/business/process-improvement/self-service/tools/6s-method (Accessed: 15 October 2021)