The Five S system is an approach to workplace organization that is designed to lower costs and improve quality, safety and productivity; all while increasing employee satisfaction. The five pillars of the system are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Five S is a visual system and is a good way to organize industrial settings.
When implementing the Five S system it is important to mark all containers, including pipes. In any workplace that has been set up for visual recognition, clearly marking the contents of all pipes lets workers know what is in each pipe and also alerts them to any hazards.
There are many ways of marking pipes. The best way to mark pipes with a consistent and easy to read method is by using a label that will stay put. When at all possible, labels should be put in employees’ direct line of sight so they can easily identify the contents of each pipe.
Preprinted labels for pipes are available at sign shops or online. These have the advantage of being ready to go, easy to use and they are usually installed by peeling off the backing and sticking the labels to the surface of the pipe. If you only need to label a few pipes containing commonly-found substances and they are in an area where the labels are unlikely to be disturbed or need to be replaced often, this may be the best way to go.
Some companies may need to change the label on their pipes as the contents change or they may have pipes located in an area where the labels wear out due to area conditions or weather. For these organizations, it might be advantageous to buy a dedicated label printer and print your own pipe markers. While these specialized printers represent more of an initial investment, their ease and versatility make them a good option in the long-term. Specialized label printers can print labels up to four inches wide and 40 inches long in a variety of colors and can even print on chemical and UV resistant stock. The printing programs are Windows compatible and work with most common office software packages.
Whether labels are purchased or produced in-house, they should conform to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications. These specifications can be found online.
When implementing Five S procedures, in addition to marking pipes, floors should be marked with floor marking tape. Floor marking is not only an important part of organization, but it helps keep workers safe and complies with both ANSI and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations. Floor marking tape is considered preferable to painted lines, since paint deteriorates and can chip or peel in high traffic areas. In areas that require floor marking and tape isn’t enough, consider floor signs. These signs are purchase preprinted and can be customized prior to ordering. To install, simply peel and stick the sign in the desired location.
The important thing to remember about Five S is that not only does it help keep your company in compliance with federal regulations, but it also provides a safe and pleasant working environment for employees. This ultimately leads to cost savings and increased employee satisfaction for your organization.