Relationship between Lean and Safety


To remain profitable, organisations must continue to lower costs while maintaining quality and productivity. Many companies have turned to the lean philosophy for help in achieving this goal. The basic principle of lean is to identify and eliminate all forms of waste. During the focus on lean implementation there is a potential of introducing hazards and changing a process in ways that can result in non-compliance of health and safety regulations. The relationship between lean and safety is not clear; however, they should work in harmony. Money and time spent on accidents and workers' compensation is classified as a waste, which is something that should be avoided based on the lean philosophy. Both lean and safety should have the common goal of reducing accidents and minimising hazards. If lean and safety issues are addressed simultaneously, the result is a more productive and safe working environment. However, anecdotal evidence shows that changes are made to improve productivity at the expense of safety during lean implementation. An online survey was conducted to gauge the affects of lean initiatives on safety. The results show a positive relationship with significant room for improvement. Based on the survey findings, recommendations for improvement are also presented.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Lean Implementation; Safety Hazards; Materials Handling; Cross-Functional Training; Injuries; Workplace Accidents; Cumulative Trauma Disorder; CTD; Health and Safety; Worker Compensation; Productivity Improvement

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Article - Journal

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