Case study – lean management and sustainability



Hafey, R. B. (2010). Lean safety: Transforming your safety culture with lean management. New York, NY: CRC Press. 



You have just been hired as the safety manager for a company that manufactures parts for automobile engines. The facility employs almost 500 people. Due to an economic downturn, the plant has laid off nearly 100 employees within the last year. The average tenure of the employees is 16 years. The manufacturing process includes numerous forging presses, mechanical power presses, and other heavy metal forming equipment. During your interview process, the plant manager boasted about the plant’s implementation of lean safety concepts. She explained that one of your primary duties would be to continue to maintain and improve upon the lean processes that have already been implemented. She also made you aware of the fact that the site’s injury rates are far above the national average. In fact, there was an amputation injury on a mechanical power press several months ago that initiated an OSHA inspection. One serious citation was issued for lack of machine guarding. 

On your first day, you are surprised to see that the office employees are utilizing the 5S lean tool. Each office area has a laminated 5S Plan posted that designates owners, tasks, and frequencies of various activities such as cleaning and trashcan emptying. Even the plant manager’s office has a 5S plan! 

After settling into your office, you take a tour of the plant floor. Your initial enthusiasm is immediately quelled. It is obvious that 5S and other lean tools are not being used in the manufacturing areas. You notice that many machines are being used without appropriate guards. Housekeeping is very poor throughout the facility. You notice several shadow boards for tool storage (refer to picture in Unit II lecture) in some maintenance work areas; however, the tools are scattered about on the floor and laying on machines. You almost get hit by a fast moving forklift transporting a load of engine parts when you come to an aisleway intersection. Aisleways are not clearly marked or delineated. 

You realize that the plant manager instructed you to continue to maintain and improve upon the lean processes right away. It is obvious to you that a lean culture is desired by management. They have an environment that is ripe for lean-based safety improvements. The plant manager has promised you the resources that you need to turn this plant around.


How would you approach your assigned task utilizing lean concepts that you have learned about thus far in this course? What are some possible cultural issues that may pose roadblocks to the implementation of lean concepts? How might you overcome such issues? What lean tools would you implement right away, and why?

Include at least the following in your response:

  Explain your approach to maintaining and improving upon the lean processes.

  Address cultural issues as part of your discussion.

  Integrate lean tools into your recommendations. 

Your assignment should be at least 500 words in length and follow APA style

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