When you add “safety” to 5S, you achieve 6S, a system that manufacturing companies rely on to evaluate hazards within the day-to-day operation of Lean workplaces. Whether you’re just getting started with 5S methodology, or you have a good understanding of 5S principles, learning and implementing 6S can strengthen risk assessment and as a result, safety. 5S has proven benefits for businesses and employees, but if accidents are an issue in your facility or if your continuous improvements seem stagnant, expand your methods to 6S and include safety. Follow along to learn more about this approach, including what 6S is, its benefits, and how floor signs and tape can help you implement it.

What Is 6S in Manufacturing?

6S in manufacturing means integrating safe practices, risk evaluations, and preventative measures into daily operations across your 5S methods. To begin, you’ll first need to know what 5S Methodology is, including its 5 pillars for organizing your facility: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Adding Safety—the 6th S in a 6S methodology—comes next and is layered throughout those five phases.

While you may feel safety is an intuitive part of 5S, formally adding this sixth pillar emphasizes the importance of safety in the workplace and prioritizes accident prevention. Not only will this help your employees avoid injury, but reducing downtime and accidents can benefit your company’s bottom line too.


The Benefits of 6S 

The 5S approach organizes your shop floor so items are properly stored and easy to find, but when you add a safety filter, these steps can further reduce slip, trip, and fall hazards, keep exits unobstructed, and make necessary equipment locations clear. Manufacturers and their employees can benefit from 6S methods in these ways:

  • Increased safety around current hazards and better prediction of future risks
  • Safer working conditions reduce employee stress
  • Less downtime from injuries and better productivity
  • Improved processes resulting in higher-quality production
  • Raised safety awareness can lead to fewer code violations

How to Use Floor Markings to Achieve 6S

To achieve 5S plus safety, identify hazards in your day-to-day operations and workplace by integrating risk assessments in each phase of the Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain steps. 5S floor marking tape can help you organize these steps and integrate safety reminders. Easy-to-apply 5S floor marking tape displays visual cues directly on your shop floor to reinforce the methodology—and outlasts paint. Our 5S floor tape and signs are designed with beveled edges and a recessed adhesive layer that provide excellent adhesion with no required curing time. Here are ideas for using floor markings to add the 6th S, Safety, to your 5S methodology:

Floor Tape to Reinforce Sort & Add Safety

Improve the first pillar in 5S—“Sort”—to add safety using floor tape. The sort step requires removing unnecessary items from your shop floor so the workplace is clutter-free. Properly manage the process with floor tape. Mark locations for equipment, tools, and supplies that aren’t needed and use the tape as a visual to communicate the status and give employees an intuitive system to follow to increase participation. These simple visuals remind workers to evaluate the shop floor frequently and improve safety by removing broken tools or potentially dangerous machinery from use.

Floor Markers for Set in Order Plus Safety

The second step in 5S is “Set in Order,” which requires everything to have a place so it can be located efficiently. Improve upon this approach with floor markers to define boundaries for bins, shelves, conveyors, or any fixture. This reinforces the Set in Order pillar and improves physical safety by reducing trip hazards, keeping aisles clear for pedestrians and machine traffic, and marking optimal equipment locations to prevent ergonomic injuries. 

5S floor signs label supply storage to reinforce your Set in Order methodology and improve safety. Use signs to mark Ladder Parking, Pallet Jack Parking, Mop Bucket, and any other placement locations so items aren’t misplaced or left where they pose a safety risk.

Safety Floor Signs for the Shine Method

The third step in 5S is “Shine,” which requires cleaning and maintaining your workplace—including machinery and vehicles—once everything has been decluttered and put away. Keeping the workplace tidy and repairing machines, forklifts, and other motorized vehicles regularly is a safety consideration in itself: When items are not kept in top condition, they can create hazards. But, your visual cue selections will last longer if you choose products made to last.

Select floor signs and floor marking tape that can withstand frequent cleaning. When our Superior Mark® material is applied correctly, it stands up to cleaning machines and chemicals without becoming damaged so it is easy to achieve the Shine phase without sacrificing hazard communications. Use crowd control stanchion and signs to create physical barriers while floors dry from mopping or sanitizing to temporarily deter traffic and prevent injuries.

Visuals to Standardize 5S Methods & Safety Reminders

The fourth step is “Standardize,” a 5S phase that reinforces the rules for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, and Safety. To bring Safety to this step, integrate visual cues into your workplace to help make 6S the norm and keep the steps top-of-mind for employees. Custom floor signs and tape can be created to communicate a process, provide reminders for safe practices and cleaning procedures, and designate storage locations. For example, PPE signs help communicate where protective clothing or devices are necessary to keep workers safe and ensure the requirements are understood—and are presented in a unified way across the whole facility. Following OSHA and ANSI guidelines help standardize safety messaging.

Floor Markings to Sustain Methods

The last step in 5S is “Sustain,” which includes audit techniques and strategies for maintaining the organization you’ve created through the 5S process. With discipline, visual cues, and training, you’ll find sustaining your facility’s organization and safety methods much more attainable. Making continuous improvements through evaluations is part of this step, but allows you to further address Safety to help prevent injuries and keep your workplace efficient. Removable floor signs and tape provide safety messaging designed to last through industrial traffic and regular cleaning, yet can be quickly peeled up and replaced with new markings as you make improvements to Lean and 5S processes or safety messaging.

While implementing 6S can seem daunting, the benefits for your business and your employees’ well-being are worth the investment. Choose and install visual cues to reinforce 5S and also communicate risks to begin creating a safer, more productive workplace through 6S. Visit our Resource Center for more tips for using floor signs and tape to create visually organized workspaces.