Sustain your 5S program with 5S audits.

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The most tried and true step to Sustain your 5S program is to conduct audits. With 5S audits, you can reveal hidden challenges before they develop into larger, more problematic issues. Audits let workers know that you are serious about monitoring their efforts to keep the program moving forward.

5S audits are part of a lean culture and are a critical safety step to ensure your company is following the implemented 5S principles. Through a successful 5S audit you can reduce production and machine failures, cut process time, eliminate slips and falls, and prevent hazards from popping up in production areas. More importantly, 5S audits help to reinforce the necessary behavioral changes in your workforce to Sustain 5S.

Regularly conducting a 5S audit creates a continuous improvement cycle which keeps items organized and eliminates waste. Audits ultimately confirm the effectiveness of 5S in your workplace.

Continuous Improvement Commandments

Simple tips for having a successful 5S audit process.

Conduct 5S audits regularly.

Regular audits lead to the greatest results. Make audits a priority and don’t allow other tasks to supersede them. You can assign specific people in your company to perform the inspections (suggestions below) but read on to see how more involvement in audits strengthens the rewards. Note: it is critical to make sure people that work in the area being audited are present and part of the dialog!

  • Weekly Audit (Best approach) Assign teams to review their own areas and perform a self-check of their work environment.
  • Monthly Audit: Performed by the supervisor in charge.
  • Quarterly Audit: Performed by the plant manager.

(Need help preparing for your 5S audit? Print the 10 Things to Do Before Your Next Audit by clicking here).

Conduct 5S audits at “random.”

Conduct audits on different days at different times. There should not be a posted schedule. A posted schedule may cause folks to simply clean up the area just prior to the audit which, of course, misses the point entirely of analyzing the area in its normal state.

Conduct 5S audits with people from other departments.

Have people from other departments do an audit side by side with you while comparing scores. This helps solidify the subjectivity of scoring and gets an outside perspective.

Review the results with the group.

Above all, review the results and action items (the good, the bad, and hopefully not any ugly) with each group that was audited. Get feedback and ideas and work on them together.


The 5S audit process:

To determine the performance score of each department, use the 5S categories to create your form.

Sort– Ensure items in the workplace that are not immediately needed for work are removed.
Set In Order– Make sure all material, information, and tools are in a location that supports the workers.
Shine– Inspect the area to see if it’s spotless; without dirt, visible leaks, foreign material, or contaminants.
Standardize– Check that the workplace is clean and orderly.
Sustain– Determine if your workplace has made a commitment to order and cleanliness. Is any non-compliance detectable?

Read helpful information about 5S training here.

1) Verify resolutions to known problems.

  • What machines are still leaking lubricants?
  • Are tool racks labeled?
  • Is the tool rack full or can it hold more items?
  • Can you easily identify why items are placed in specific locations?

2) Have standards been met?

  • Are tools in their appropriate location or are they left on tool benches?
  • Is dirt piling up on the production floor?
  • Any new sounds or smells coming from machinery or equipment?
  • Are existing signs and labels visibly recognizable?

3) What still needs to be standardized?

  • Are signs, labels, and tags used to convey information?
  • Is there a limit to how much weight this item can safely hold?
  • Should these packages of excessive supplies be stored in a safer location?
  • Are the tools at the point of use?

Keeping score

Each question you ask on your 5S audit form should have an individual score of 0 to 5. (0 is the lowest) Award points for each question, add up the scores and divide by the overall number of questions asked. For example, an overall score of 100 based on 22 questions is a final score of 4.5/5.0


When implementing and keeping up with 5S workplace organization, guarantee your company is always maximizing their potential with regular 5S audits and a solid training program.

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