Laboratories play a pivotal role in scientific research, development, and innovation. Ensuring efficiency, safety, and organization within a laboratory setting is paramount.
One proven approach to achieving these objectives is through the implementation of the 5S methodology. The 5S framework (see below for details) aims to optimize workspace organization, reduce waste, and enhance productivity.
Utilizing 5S audit checklists can be instrumental in keeping the laboratory environment organized and in compliance with industry standards. Jump to the bottom of this page to get our free 5s Checklists, plus links to a couple of other free checklists out there.
Of course – you can make your own checklist with Audit Shine – give it a try!
1. Sort (Seiri):
The first step in a 5S audit for a laboratory involves sorting through items and determining what is necessary and what can be removed. The checklist for this phase should include items such as identifying and disposing of expired chemicals, disposing of broken equipment, and organizing storage areas. Furthermore – Items belonging to other workstations/offices/colleagues should also be put back where they belong.
2. Set in Order (Seiton):
Once unnecessary items have been removed, the next step is to arrange the remaining items in a logical and efficient manner. Remember to put items together/close-by if they are used together. Also – frequently used items should be closest to the staff lab worker. The checklist should include evaluating storage systems, labeling all equipment and materials, and ensuring that each item has a designated and easily accessible place.
3. Shine (Seiso):
The ‘Shine’ stage involves thoroughly cleaning and maintaining the laboratory to create a conducive working environment. The audit checklist (which could be a simple Microsoft Excel csv file) for this phase should encompass checks for all types of quipment and workstations cleanliness. Make it shine!
4. Standardize (Seiketsu):
Standardization is about creating consistent processes and procedures to sustain the improvements achieved in the previous stages. The checklist sheet for this step should include ensuring everyone follows the standards for organization and cleanliness, as well as documenting these standards. Make sure all the staff in the lab receive 5s training and know their responsibilities and aim for a high or perfect audit score.
5. Sustain (Shitsuke):
The final step of the 5S methodology, ‘Sustain,’ focuses on continually improving and maintaining the achieved standards. The audit checklist should encompass regular audits and inspections, training programs for new employees, and mechanisms for feedback and continuous improvement.
Implementing and regularly auditing the 5S methodology in a laboratory setting not only enhances efficiency and safety (sidenote – a 6s laboratory audit includes safety) but also cultivates a culture of continuous improvement. Through this systematic approach, laboratories can optimize their operations, reduce errors, minimize waste, and just do better science 🧪 !