Book review for “Lean Sustainability”

Lean Sustainability

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The book provides practical, detailed, real-world examples that no other book provides, which integrates safety, health and environment (SHE) with lean and sustainability, known as “Lean, Green and Serene”. Averill introduces another concept, “Triple Zero” which is the goal of zero accidents, zero incidents, and zero losses (p. xii). This is achievable if everyone in an organization works together to remove and control risk (p.16) through reduction in hazards and exposure controls (p.17). He calls this “autonomous team culture” where SHE processes are fully integrated into decision making, management systems, and ways of working (p.27). Companies use both leading and lagging metrics to measure performance (p.52).

  • There is a history of lean, SHE and sustainability. The Toyota Production System (TPS) has goals of creating an “efficient, stress-free work environment” (p.3). In addition, the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM) requires organizations to reduce accidents and environmental pollution in order to receive its Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Excellence Award. JIPM also discusses the need for a safe, working environment, otherwise employees are unwilling and even unable to focus their energies on production improvement activities. In other words, all improvement begins with safety (p.6).
  • Averill equates workplace accidents and environmental incidents as wastes that harm the value stream, and is consistent and supportive with the goals of SHE (p.2).
  • Companies that are considered leaders in implementing environmental, social and governance policies have outperformed the general stock market by 25% since August 2005 (p.11).
  • An effective SHE management system has processes in place to systematically identify and remove both at-risk conditions and at-risk behavior (p.31).
  • Averill presents a SHE loss tree, which breaks up 39 different situations suffered by an organization, broken up into Safety, Environment and Health, which can be used to track the count and cost of each loss, to aid in reporting across an organization.
  • To achieve a goal of zero incidents and accidents, an organization requires a definition, explanation why it’s an important and achievable goal, examples and case studies from other companies, and a plan for achieving it (p.43). The definitions can change over time, starting with reportable incidents, then expanding to include all incidents, whether reported or not (p.45).
  • Organizations with a “zero waste” strategy also look at the lifecycle of a product, and strive for zero environmental incidents, zero solid and hazardous waste, zero emissions, zero effluent, zero waste of resources, zero toxics and zero energy wasted (100% energy efficiency) (p.46).
  • The key to safety training is teaching people to anticipate dangers. Workers are shown pictures, videos and simulations of dangerous situations related to their work, and are asked to discuss what they see. This is similar to pilot training using flight simulators. (p.70).
  • Gemba walks through the workplace can be used to help workers identify and discuss hazards, particularly those hidden or easily overlooked (p.71). The key is to give employees a life-altering accident situation to undergo a personal safety transformation, without actually being involved in an accident (p.72).
  • One point lessons (OPLs) can be used to teach a single concept or skill on a one-page document. Once the employee demonstrates that they understand the OPL, they initial the document (p.73).
  • Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) or Check Act Plan Do (CAPD) are recommended as standard approaches for implementing kaizen, just as it is for lean and TPM improvements (p.120-121).
  • Integrating SHE into lean can be accomplished by:
    • reviewing changes from lean improvements
    • incorporating SHE into master plans and activities
    • leveraging lean methodology and tools to reduce risks and improve performance
    • factoring SHE opportunities into the company decision making process and its operations (p.136).
  • Use of checklists and visual controls can improve the safety and job performance of a wide range of tasks, for both experienced and inexperienced workers (p.141).
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC) can be used to differentiate common cause from special cause variation. For example, U-charts can be used to monitor OSHA recordable accident rates (p.150). Benefits of applying SPC are also provided (p.151).
  • Dot distribution mapping (or pictograms or measles charts or defect concentration charts) can be used to track where incidents occur or accidents take place, in order to identify the source of the problems (p.154). Discharge mapping can be used to map effluent or site emissions (p.158).
  • Lean production and environmental sustainability share the same overall goals and objectives: to eliminate waste, to maximize the use of resources, and to achieve long-term efficient operations. Green efforts make business sense because they focus on the efficient use of resources, which has a positive and salutary effect on an organization’s finances. Companies can be both Lean and Green (p.167).
  • Lean and Green Sustainability Roadmap is described in the final chapter (p.173-177), and consists of the following sections:
  1. Recognize
  2. Visualize
  3. Organize
  4. Strategize
  5. Conceptualize
  6. Prioritize
  7. Operationalize
  8. Synthesize
  9. Integrate
  10. Synergize
  • Lean tools can be used or modified to support SHE initiatives, such as: Value Stream Mapping (VSM), visual controls, environmental aspect, value chain flowchart, and energy inventories (p.177-184).

Overall, this book does an excellent job of showing the benefits of tying lean, sustainability, health and safety into a cohesive program. Companies that do not align these initiatives into their existing continuous improvement program are missing out, and leaving the door open to their competitors.

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