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Topic 5S vs 6S

5S vs 6S

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Chris Seider 2 years, 10 months ago.

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)
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  • #181757 Reply


    currently we are using 6S ( 5S + Safety) in manufacturing. Your thoughts on using 5S Vs 6S.

    #181770 Reply

    Reputation - 89
    Rank - Aluminum

    Depending on where you work,OSHA may or may not apply.
    Any mfg. I have worked for opted for the 6th S.
    No harm in Poka Yokeing your processes for safety,many benefits.

    #181771 Reply

    It sounds cute and participative and makes everyone feel good. If you are in an environment where a paper cut is about as bad as it gets you are probably ok. If you need a proactive program in an environment where you have actuall fatalities it is an approach that is so soft I would consider it negligent.

    Just my opinion.

    #181776 Reply

    The traditional 5S’s have action words associated with them. Safety in itself doesn’t. So…I’d say use TPM’s approach and approach Safety improvements as a separate activity from 5S. Yes, there is some overlap but there is overlap in many strategies.

    #182477 Reply

    A lot of safety programs make no sense to me regardless of the types of words they use. We (Chris and I) have been exposed to the behavior based safety which seems to have some effect but has sustainability issues – Ok everyone into a safety meeting every morning – how long does that last before you just get numb. It does address a component of it. In companies such as mining companies there are real fatalities. We have seen what happene in Chile and things like that are a risk everywhere in mining. The basic situation of digging a big hole in the ground and then going into that hole and setting off explosives is just an inherently dangerous process.

    We have done SS projects and Lean projects to mitigate some of the risk and help resolve some basic issues. You have a behavior side and problem resolution methodology. I still do not believe that as a stand alone program that is sufficient in inherently dangerous operations.

    The most complete program I have seen takes an engineering approach to safety i.e. i don’t need to wait for an accident to happen so I can investigate and take preventative action. This program assesses risk before things go wrong. It was used in a mine adjacent to the one where we worked in South Africa. The results were amazing. The website is

    I have no financial links with this company. They have saved lives. If you are interested in an effective safety program this one has worked.

    Just my opinion.

    #182481 Reply

    A good way to identify safety issues is with a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. Of course it’s only as good as the knowledge of the system that the participants bring, but usually that’s pretty good. Once identified, then action needs to take place to reduce or eliminate the hazards.

    #184144 Reply

    Like all things, 5S and Safety are most effective when they are kept as simple as possible.

    This is achieved by keeping both separate and therefore the purpose of each clearly defined.

    Whilst 5S improves safety in many ways by removing clutter and reducing in size and time actions required to achieve results, the full potential of both is reduced when they are integrated into one system.

    #184205 Reply

    Hi to all,

    The 5S technique was developed for various purposes apart from what it was actually describing like Sorting, stabilizing, Shining, Standardizing and sustaining.

    Like the one who following the 5S technique will get lot of benefits because of the disciplined approach, the Safety also one of the benefit as the 5S technique minimizes the risks involved in the gemba, the workplace.

    #184276 Reply

    @prabhuvspj Just a curiosity. If you throw in a word such as Gemba and then you ned to define that word (I assume it is because you are not sure you communicated clearly to an audience of this DF that is primarily American English speaking and you are speaking Japanese so it would be a fair assumption that you communicated unclearly). If you define the word immediately after useing that word, what is the point of using it in the first place?

    #184318 Reply

    @prabhuvspj I appreciate the definition but as you said it was already defined in your post. People are even familiar with it to a large extent due the persistent use of it by the Lean community.

    The question is why use it? You chose to define it immediately after you used it so why use it in the first place? Throwing it into the post certainly didn’t enhance the understanding of predominately English speaking audience. I haven’t quite figured out why the Lean community does this particularly when they try to teach to groups that are seeing Lean/5S/Kaizen for the first time. The concepts are what is important which makes clear communication important so who are we using these terms for?

    #184359 Reply

    @Mike-Carnell – Obviously it is more mystical and magical in Japanese!!!

    #184363 Reply

    @mike Carnell – Thank you for your post. I understood the situation. I will consider this in future situations. Thanks

    #184374 Reply

    @MBBinWI I have just never figured it out. When this whole thing started everyone was suddenly talking about Muda. Ok why not call it waste? This is Texas why not derroche or desperdicio?

    It is very frustrating to be doing something that depends on effective communication and to have people start speaking to a group of people in a language they don’t understand – for what purpose? I spent about 3 years in and out of Japan working with companies and spent a lot of money on an interpreter because I knew it made no sense to speak English to a group of people when there would be several that did not speak English. More importantly it is much easier for people to understand in their first language so if effective communication is important do it on their terms so they don’t have to deal with anything more than the point you are trying to make.

    Just my opinion.

    #184381 Reply

    @Mike-Carnell – and a good opinion it is. See you in a few weeks.

    #184392 Reply

    @MBBinWI Looking forward to it. You staying for the party?

    #184424 Reply

    Reputation - 20
    Rank - Aluminum

    I have always chosen to stick to 5S rather than add in the 6th. I see Safety as a mindset, much like waste elimination, which must be utilised through these processes. I try to steer clear of confusion that maybe caused by people thinking because safety is a separate step that we don’t need to think of it until then. I reiterate that safety must be paramount throughout whatever we are doing both in the activity and the solutions put in place through them.

    #184425 Reply

    To get back to the original question, I’ve seen people add other “S” words — Safety, Security, Satisfaction, Social responsibility, Simplicity… All good things but distracting from the purpose of 5S, which is a continual improvement cycle. “Sustain” shouldn’t be thought of as a stopping point but rather as sustaining the cycle. What you sort, store, etc. is not just tools and materials but all of your process assets including policies, procedures and data. Safety is something to be improved by 5S, not a sixth S.

    #184427 Reply

    Confusion about 5S begins with its originator, Hiroyuki Hirano, who chose 5 Japanese words beginning with the “S” sound for alliterative memory value. He had to clarify what he really meant. Imprecise translation into English “S” words to maintain the alliteration means that you can’t understand without explanation. Therefore every respecatble presentation of 5S includes a sentence or two to explain what each “S” really means. Read Hirano’s “5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace”

    #184431 Reply

    There’s a simple fundamental rule of nature – effectiveness is proportional to simplicity.

    This remains a fact, regardless of our opinions and must be realised in everything we set out do in which we seek the very best results.

    For every facet we add to anything, the less it becomes clear.

    This relates to 5S more than anything else.

    5S in its underpants is this:
    An effective process which enables the achievement of maximum results using minimum effort.

    5S is a powerful tool, when it follows its own principles.

    5S principles have been around long before Cro-Magnon first sorted the cave of Saber Tooth Tiger bones, set some spears in a rack and shined skins in the local creek.

    In fact, these were the leanest times in history as these people only possessed what they absolutely needed, used almost every bit of waste, and not a Toyota in sight!

    I respect and appreciate 5S maestro’s of recent times, it must be understood that they did not invent nor originate these age old fundamental principles, they did however organise and leverage them for modern industry and ‘brought them to the world’s attention’ to be ideally, further refined and developed.

    With this in mind, 5S arrived at the 20th century as lean mean formula one car, it is still a formula one car however during the past few decades it has gained a roof rack, a bull bar, it is now covered in mud (and muda, and clay, and kuso, and….you get my point) oh, and don’t forget the trailer to lug Safety along, plus a mountain of other unnecessary kanji (manure) added on essentially by mediocre zealots endeavouring to appear intelligent by baffling us with kanji.

    Enough theory, time for some practical

    I know a guy that has been successfully implementing nothing but 5S for a long time.
    He said when he first started out he used a popular 5S system that although at the time seemed overly complex, he stuck with it..for a while.

    As he began to understand 5S more through continually ‘doing’, he began to ‘5S’ 5S.
    In his words ‘Removing what was superfluous to gain more sustainable results faster’.

    Facts remove conjecture:

    The 5S system he reduced in size and now uses has over 75% less content than its original size and he continues to reduce it in size.

    As it gets less, he achieves more.
    I think it’s called ‘experience’?

    Eg: If you went fishing every day for ten years, then through experience, you should be catching ‘more’ fish in ‘less’ time in the tenth year then you did in the first year.
    If you’re not, then you’ve most likely been reading too many books on fishing while fishing and therefore ignorant in noticing and learning what actually works and what doesn’t.
    I think it’s called ‘inference’?


    There are only two occasions when we should speak or type the Japanese (or any other language) equivalent an English Lean word or phrase:
    1. When the entire audience we’re addressing understands what it is.
    2. When the entire audience we’re addressing understands what it is.

    Food for thought..
    Cro-Magnon 5S terminology 8000BC:






    #500501 Reply


    The 6th S (safety) is rediculous.

    Safety should be taken into account on all stages of 5S.

    Just my opinion.

    #500509 Reply

    I think most folks doing LSS training use the Japanese words simply because that is how we learned it. Very interesting point you raise though Mike around what is the value of continuing to use those words when we must then define them?

    #500519 Reply

    The passion over 5 or 6 Ss is awesome!

    I am in the camp of the keep it simple and match your culture / the culture you are trying to develop. It is always tempting to get into the use of Japanese terms, but they can become a distraction. The same goes with some of the proper names for Six Sigma / statistical tools. It is most important to use the processes and tools correctly and use the best terms based upon the audience. I find that speaking 95% confident and p values intimidate business leaders if they are not from a statistical background just as I find people not from a lean background wanting to add an S.

    As a leader of the company or of a cultural change, it is a fine line of insuring the process and discipline which is proven to work is being deployed without disengaging your stakeholders vs. temptation to use the training received in language and jargon.

    To answer the direct question. I prefer 5S because lean always addresses safety. However, I recently had a leader who demanded to have 6S. I used 6S until he learned for himself through the process why 5S is “the standard”. I asked myself which was more important, falling on my sword over the Japanese/American terms, or to focus on driving change and better conditions for the employees and therefore the customer.

    #500523 Reply

    It’s interesting how these strings pop back up.

    I still think it’s silly to have 6S. 5S plus safety activities are congruent and should be in parallel but don’t confuse safety with 5S.

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