Chapter 1
Safety, Health, and 
Environmental (SHE) 
Pillar: Foundation of Lean 
Continuous Improvement
Safe upon solid rock the ugly houses stand.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
American poet 1842–1950
1.1  Beginnings of Lean and TPM
Lean production is an improvement model and collection of tools that
emphasizes the elimination of all types of waste (muda) and non-value-
added activities, and the delivery of high-quality products at the lowest
possible cost. The focus of Lean is on producing more goods with fewer
resources by driving continual improvement in all areas of business perfor-
mance, including cost, productivity, efficiency, and safety, health, and envi-
ronment (SHE). Key principles of a Lean supply chain include
1. Value is defined by the customer.
2. The supply chain and value stream should flow continuously.
3. The entire organization must manage toward perfection by eliminating
waste and adding value.
2 ◾  Lean Sustainability
It is important to note that from a Lean perspective, workplace accidents
and environmental incidents are wastes that harm the value stream, hamper
continuous flow, and work against the goal of perfection. Therefore, when
implemented properly, Lean production is consistent with, and supportive of,
SHE excellence.
To fully appreciate the impact of Lean thinking and practice on modern
manufacturing and its relationship to achieving SHE excellence, it is help-
ful to have an understanding of its history, roots, and philosophy. Although
the modern Lean methodology is derived from the Toyota Production
System (TPS), its history and evolution can be traced back almost 100 years.
American industrialist Henry Ford is commonly recognized as the first
person to move away from craft production and use the assembly line to
achieve production flow and mass production. In 1913 at his Model T auto-
mobile manufacturing complex in Highland Park, Michigan, Ford integrated
the concepts of interchangeable parts, standard work, and production flow
via the moving assembly line. Although Fords mass production process
successfully produced over 15 million Model T autos at low cost, his system
had some marked deciencies. Specifically, Fords production process was
inflexible and unable to provide product variety. As Ford wrote in his auto-
biography, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants
so long as it is black.
Fords mass production approach “only worked when
production volumes were high enough to justify high-speed assembly lines,
when every product used exactly the same parts, and when the same model
was produced for many years.
Although Ford was a pioneer in advancing
better pay for workers, Fords system also suffered from the fact that it tended
to devalue workers, assigning them to repetitive tasks, not tapping their full
capabilities, and not seeking their input. To a large extent, labor was viewed
solely as a cost of production, and not something that could add value.
Workers on the production line were replaceable and expendable. Although
the mass assembly line resulted in marked production improvements and
some improvements in safety, working conditions were far from ideal.
The Ford Motor Company’s mass production model played a pivotal role
in the Allied victory during World War II. The ability of American industry
to produce the massive quantity of war materiel that ensured victory did not
go unnoticed by Japanese industrialists. At the Toyota Company, Eiji Toyoda,
Shigeo Shingo, and Taiichi Ohno studied Fords production system, American
grocery chains, and the statistical process control methods of W. Edwards
Deming, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Joseph Juran. Around 1950, based upon these
studies of American production methods, Toyotas chief engineer, Taiichi

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