How Can 5S Help Your Business?

How Can 5S Help Your Business?

Productivity is a key issue in manufacturing environments and our customers are constantly looking for ways to improve their productivity and reduce total costs. 5S is a great way to get a business organized and productive. 5S might sound scary or little different, but it’s one of the most widely adopted techniques in establishing operational stability and sustaining continuous improvement.

5S is a lean methodology derived from five Japanese words.  It is designed to reduce waste and optimize productivity through better and more effective organization. The five categories of the 5S are Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso) Standardize (Seiketsu) and Sustain (Shitsuke). In 5S, visual devices such as red tags, floor marking tapes and shelf labels are used to ensure everything has a place, and that everything remains in its place. This not only keeps everything clean and organized, but also helps you to see what you have, what you need and what is getting low, ultimately, helping you to save time and money.

With some help from our friends at Brady, we will detail each of these 5S pillars, explain the process and how these guidelines for a visual workplace can benefit your company.

Step One: SORT

The first step is as simple as going through what you have and determining what you want and need to keep, and what you can get rid of. This includes sorting through all tools and materials, only keeping the essentials. Anything that doesn’t make the cut, discard! This will keep your workplace clutter and hazard free.


Did you know that 75% of knowledge is gained through visuals? The second step in 5S is to look for ways to reduce any sources of waste and errors in your facility, and in the process, make it more visually instructive. By adding visuals to the workplace, employees have the information they need to effectively do their jobs, cut down on wasted time and be more effective.

Areas of focus include:

  • Organizing equipment
  • Establishing safety measures
  • Creating procedures
  • Establishing product quality standards
  • Creating effective inventory and material handling

Step Three: SHINE

Step three simply put means CLEAN. By eliminating dust, dirt and sources of contamination/debris and inspecting your equipment in the process, you can improve the safety and productivity of your facility. Once you get your workplace clean, create a plan or process to ensure you can maintain its appearance and use preventative measures to keep it that way.


Next, you need to expand your efforts and create best practices to make the improved workplace a standard. To do this, it’s important to have clear and consistent visual controls, roles and responsibilities. This includes job scheduling boards, employee schedules and check sheets, supply checkout boards, safe state visuals and Lead Daily Management (LDM) boards.

Step Five: SUSTAIN

This step is all about ensuring that employees understand that workplace organization is a top priority. It is a goal to continually improve the workplace.


Safety is built into the 5S structure by identifying potential hazards, risks and creating preventive safety processes to keep your workplace operating at 100% and helping to keep your team safe.

Through our French Gerleman Stock Optimization Program, we can help you to implement the 5S structure and get your facility to optimum productivity. We have many products and solutions, such as our Job Site Storage Mobile Carts, that can help get you and your employees stay organized. You can also learn more about how Brady utilizes 5S with their products HERE.

If you’re interested in learning more about 5S or how to increase your company’s productivity, give your French Gerleman Account Manager a call today!

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Brady Presents the Five Steps for HazCom for GHS Implementation

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) full compliance deadline is fast approaching on June 1, 2016.  At our Product and Technology Expo, Brady gave us a closer look into labels, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) changes, and top questions. To help you gauge your compliance, review the five steps to compliance and key questions and checklists presented by Brady.

Step 1: Develop a written Hazard Communication plan.

Develop a written HazCom plan that documents and outlines how your company responds to hazardous chemicals.  The plan should include a summary of the hazardous chemicals and contain your hazard communication program or policy.  Documenting your organization’s policy for dealing with hazardous chemicals will help you inform and properly train your employees.

Step 2: Inventory all of your chemicals.

Taking inventory of all of the chemicals being used throughout your facility is the most effective way to understand your chemicals and pave the way for GHS compliance.
Safety Data Sheets

Step 3: Establish and maintain a complete library of Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

Now that you have inventoried your hazardous chemicals, it’s time to find the new SDSs for all chemicals in your facility.  Going forward, chemical manufacturers and distributors should provide an SDS with your new orders, but it is your responsibility to track down SDSs for chemicals currently on site and maintain your collection of SDSs going forward. Employees should have easy access to chemical SDSs at all times.

Step 4: Label all production finished goods, storage containers, pipes, and tanks.

All employers are required to update their workplace containers with new GHS-compliant labels.  The intent of the new labelling system is to clearly communicate the chemical hazards to your employees (and customers). GHS labels include the product name, hazardous ingredients, applicable physical and health hazard statements, a “Danger” or “Warning” signal word and pictogram(s), along with supplemental and contact information.

Step 5: Train and communicate the elements of Hazard Communication to your workforce.

Regular employee training is essential to the success of your Hazard Communication program.  It’s critical that your employees know how to read and interpret the hazardous chemical labels and SDSs to better protect themselves from chemical hazards.  Make sure employee training (and re-training) is a priority!

Check our Brady’s whitepaper on Five Steps to Hazard Communication Compliance to learn more.


Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. How many different chemicals do we use in our facility?
  2. Do we use secondary containers for our chemicals?
  3. Have I estimated the annual quantity of labels we’ll need?
  4. What’s my current labeling solution? Is it effective? Can it print in color?
  5. Do I need to print labels right away or can I wait a few days?

Your GHS Checklist:

  • Reinforce previous employee training and continue to re-train for new employees or new chemicals added to your facility
  • Document the inability of any supplier to provide SDSs (deviations)
  • Assign personnel to be responsible for labeling and make sure they are properly trained
  • Evaluate label printing systems, if needed, or preprinted labels from suppliers
  • Audit and stress test your HazCom plan and update as necessary
  • Stay ahead of the GHS deadline!

We hope this helps you understand GHS and better prepare for the GHS deadline. Check out the full presentation HERE. If you have any questions on your GHS compliance, please give your account manager a call.

National Electrical Safety Month – Effective Lockout Programs

Did you know that May is National Electrical Safety Month? It’s a campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to promote electrical safety in the home, school and workplace.

According to the ESFI, raising awareness of electrical hazards is the key to reducing injuries and death in the home and workplace. This week’s blog will focus on lockout/tagout safety.

Lockout/tagout, or LOTO, is a safety procedure to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work. This is an extremely important procedure that should never be overlooked.

Our vendor partner, Brady, shared an excellent white paper titled “Beyond the Products: 5-Steps to An Effective Lockout Program.”  Brady, who is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, is a global leader in providing LOTO solutions. They were the first to respond to the OSHA legislation in 1990 and they have maintained its position as the leading LOTO solutions provider.


Here’s a brief summary of their whitepaper on the steps to an effective lockout program:

Step #1

The first step in an effective lockout program is to develop energy control policy/program. A written lockout document is integral to an effective program- it establishes the nuts and bolts. OSHA provides a LOTO tutorial that has great information on developing an energy control policy or program.

Step #2

The next step is to create written, equipment-specific lockout procedures. It is important for lockout procedures to be formally documents and must identify the equipment covered. You should detail the specific steps necessary for shutting down, isolating, securing and blocking equipment to control hazardous energy.

OSHA requires each machine have its own written program and each procedure must be reviewed annually.  French Gerleman has have found many customers have not completed these procedures, are behind due to equipment changes, are not reviewing their programs annually or are in need of an upgrade to their programs.  Together with Brady, French Gerleman offers a Visual Lockout Procedures (VLOP) service to develop and install machine procedures customized by industry experts for your facility.

Step #3

The third step is to identify energy control points. Locate and mark all energy control points, including switches, breakers, plugs and valves, with permanent labels or tags. Brady offers a complete line of labels and tags for various energy sources. For your convenience, Brady has a portable and industrial label maker that will produce custom labels and also link to the Brady LINK360 software procedure output.

Step #4

Step four, which is an extremely vital step, is training, communication and inspection. Establish a formal training program for employees based on the three categories of lockout, including “Authorized”, “Affected”, and “Other” employees. Brady offers safety training and seminar services for both the Authorized and Affected employee groups. They can also create custom lockout training programs tailored to your workplace.

Step #5

The final step in creating an effective lockout program is providing proper protective products. You must equip your employees with the proper lockout tools and warning devices to keep them safe. It’s important to know and document which devices are acceptable for use at every lockout point. Brady has published a Circuit Breaker Lockout Reference Guide, along with other advisory information documents, to help you determine what safety procedures you need to take.

In the end, the best practice lockout programs go beyond the products and must take into account the employees, machine specific requirements and the facility environment. If you would like more information beyond the whitepaper, Brady has also developed a downloadable eBook “The Safety Professional’s Expanded Guide to Lockout Tagout.”

Interested in learning more about LOTO programs or creating an effective VLOP program for your workplace? Contact Melissa Skaggs at 314-213-5867 or  We would be happy to work with you to create an effective program that works for you.