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Frequent 5S and Lean methodology audits are key for successful, organized workspaces and improving overall performance. To evaluate 5S, you must define measurable goals and decide how you’ll determine success. Using 5S audit checklists is one way to evaluate each step and pinpoint areas where improvements are necessary. While these audit points may not be useful in your facility, these questions may help you measure 5S efficacy—and help pinpoint areas that need improvement.

How Often Should You Perform a 5S Audit?

A 5S audit should be completed at least every six months in facilities with an established program, and more often in facilities that have recently implemented 5S/Lean methodology. Examining the processes and looking for weak points can help streamline methods, boost employee participation, and improve the program overall.

These regular audits aren’t the only step in checking the effectiveness of a program. Assigning smaller, weekly self-checks of an employee’s work area can help maintain the standards between audits—and improve 5S success overall. Take steps between each inspection to ensure requirements are met before the next evaluation.

5S Steps to Success

Sort

Clutter can reduce productivity or create hazards—removing extraneous items through the Sort step helps reduce confusion and maintain order. Auditing this first step in the 5S process helps develop a regular practice, turning cleanliness and organization into a habit. To evaluate this step, consider:

  • Is the area free from hazards or dangers?
  • Are all surfaces organized and clutter-free? This includes floors, beneath work stations and desks, on and shelves.
  • Are all objects in the workspace necessary? Does each tool or item serve a purpose?
  • Are red-tagged items removed from the holding area when the hold period is up?
  • Are tools and supplies in good condition? Are all damaged items removed?
  • Are traveled paths and workspaces free from clutter?

Set in Order

The Set in Order phase creates a logical, well-organized workspace: Tools and materials are arranged sensibly to allow easy access with minimal reaching and to reduce time lost searching for necessary items. This phase applies to everything from factory floors to storage closets to office desks. Evaluate whether your facility is hitting the mark with these checklist points:

  • Are tools and items easy to find?
  • Are drawers, shelves, and spaces clearly labeled?
  • Does everything have a designated place?
  • Is everything in the appropriate place?
  • Do taped floor markings indicate space for machinery, tools, pallets, and other items?
  • Is foot traffic properly managed?
  • Are visual cues and signs appropriate, useful, and in good repair?

Shine

The Shine phase is where you ensure the facility—including individual workspaces, machinery, storage areas, and walkways—are kept clean. Evaluating this part in the 5S Methodology includes these steps:

  • Are all floors, surfaces, and work areas kept clean? (Swept, free from clutter, no slip or trip hazards, cords and wires neatly tucked away, no unnecessary tools at the workstation)
  • Is all machinery properly cleaned and maintained?
  • Are tools and machines stored according to safety and organizational guidelines?
  • Is a process in place for routine cleaning procedures?
  • Do employees take the initiative to clean an area?
  • Are all signage, floor marking tape, and visual cues clear and beneficial, or must they be updated?

Standardize

The Standardize audit points help to evaluate whether your 5S practices are successful in your facility. Explore these items to determine success.

  • Are the expectations, requirements, and processes clear?
  • Is process documentation available for all employees?
  • Are all employees trained regularly on safety protocol, workflow, and procedures?
  • Is there a process of accountability to ensure the methods are understood and followed?
  • Are employees rewarded for compliance, or offered further training as necessary?

Sustain

The fifth step, Sustain, evaluates whether employees comply with standards, procedures remain valuable, and regular audits are completed. These regular audits reinforce the standards, rather than letting the facility’s participation rate slip. Some questions to help evaluate this 5S point include:

  • Are audits completed regularly—every three to six months, depending on need?
  • Is there a weekly or monthly process in effect for employees to self-check their workspaces and processes?
  • Is there a process to receive and evaluate feedback from employees at all levels?
  • Is feedback properly reviewed, are relevant changes made?
  • Are all employees following 5S and Lean processes as required?
  • Have non-compliance or lacking procedures been updated since the last audit?
  • Are floor marking techniques standing up to the test, or must floor tape and signage be updated for clarity, longevity, or efficiency?

A 5S Audit in Progress

Building good habits and striving for continuous improvement are keys to 5S success. But, an audit must be followed by action. If areas are found non-compliant while evaluating 5S processes, first tackle immediate issues that may impact safety, then look for small changes that can be made incrementally to improve overall processes. These checklists can get you started in creating your own 5S/Lean auditing process, so build your own methods for evaluating success, and visit our Resource Center for additional tips and tricks for floor marking, safety, and organization.