OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, is a part of the US Department of Labor. It was formed in 1970 with the mission of assuring a safe and healthful working environment by setting and enforcing standards. It also provides training, outreach, education, and assistance.
The underlying mission of OSHA is completely compatible with continuous improvement. Providing a safe and healthy environment is part of showing respect for people.
Unfortunately, many government agencies are viewed as the enemy because of their punitive powers. The biggest word of warning for leadership of a Lean operation is to make sure that any modification to equipment doesn’t run afoul of regulations.
Another potential problem comes as operations become more streamlined. Repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs, become more likely when operators perform the same motion more frequently.
While both of those situations fall under the purview of OSHA, they are typical of misguided approaches to Lean. Well-run Lean operations will naturally steer clear of these problems. They will have processes in place for approving equipment modifications, and they will have cross training and job rotation to keep employees from developing RSIs. Becoming familiar with regulations, and applying common sense and respect when developing processes can help your organization stay out of trouble with OSHA.