Workplace Organization Program Saves Time, Money and Frustration
5S is a program for organizing the workplace to help reduce time need to find equipment and supplies. “(5S) allowed us to get rid of the clutter in our storage areas and made it easier to get to the things we use the most,” commented one Nurse Manager following 5S. In addition to projecting a better first impression to patients, 5S makes it quicker and easier to find the equipment, supplies, and/or information when and where they are needed.
The title “5S” comes from each stage in the program beginning with “S” - Sort, Select locations, Scrub, Safety, Secure locations, and Sustain. Each stage is explained in greater detail below.
Sort – Items are placed into 3 groups: not needed, not sure, or needed. “Not needed” items are expired, outdated, or not used items and are immediately removed from the area. However, do not reflexively throw all of the not needed items in the trash as many still have value. An average of $500/unit was returned to central supply during a recent 5S event in one hospital. “Not sure” are set aside for further review with the goal of making a decision in a week or less. By setting items aside staff has time to review and decide if they are still needed. “Needed” items are those considered useful and needed to support the work. These items are the focus of the remaining stages.
Select locations – Proper planning of locations to store items can significantly reduce walking and/or set-up times. As a general rule, place high-use supplies and equipment nearest to their point of use, put equipment in easy access locations, and be mindful not to violate hospital regulations when selecting locations.
Scrub – Clean with the intention of preparing surfaces to hold visual information: labels, tape, and/or signage. Unclean surfaces prevent proper adherence of labels and tape which ultimately gives the 5S effort a poor image.
Safety – Broken equipment, out-of-date supplies, and ergonomic hazards should be fixed to keep patients and employees safe. Safety examples include missing wheels, broken wheelchairs, and poor computer workstation setups.
Secure Locations – Securing locations reduces confusion. Locations are secured by creating borders, hanging signage, and placing labels. Proper locations makes it obvious were items are to be kept. Similar to lines in a parking lot, floor tape creates borders for equipment. Signs and labels are then used to reserve the spot for a particular item.
Sustain – 5S requires an ongoing effort to sustain. Involve staff early in 5S planning and use them extensively during the event. Consider assigning 5S responsibilities, holding quarterly 5S events, and completing weekly audits as part of your 5S sustainability plan.
5S is relatively simple, yet powerful tool to providing order to any workplace. The benefit of and orderly and organized workplace is the time saved in unnecessary searches and the great first impression given to patients, family and staff. Improve the image of your work area and tap into the benefits of 5S to eliminate wasted time searching for equipment, information, and/or supplies.