Lean is about behavioural change: a change for the better, identifying simple and waste-free methods to perform any activity, process, or service. In environmental health and safety (EHS), approximately 85% of all injuries are related to poor behaviors (unsafe acts); therefore we must create a safety culture. EHS professionals must recognize the power of the lean culture and use its power to build upon their own EHS culture. Why not incorporate EHS into the idea of standardized work for all activities, why not incorporate safety into your audits, why not visualize safety within the visual management tools in the workplace, why not make safety part of leadership standard audits and shop floor walks, and why not work with your lean leadership to change the culture together?
EHS already has many of the expected lean tools in its arsenal. When an injury occurs, it is expected that the EHS and leadership team react quickly with a sense of urgency to solve the root cause of the injury. Therefore, we all rush to the area to see what happened, we investigate and utilize problem-solving techniques. We do our best to find and eliminate the root cause of that injury and we look for other areas or similar conditions and implement corrective actions. From the author's lean experience, that sure does sound like a strong lean culture and methodology.