What Is The Difference Between 5S And 6S Audits?

Is your organisation struggling to decide whether to use 5S or 6S audits? Or maybe you’re a business owner who doesn't yet know what 5S or 6S means for your company? Deciding which of these organisational strategies to use impacts the efficiency and smooth-running of your business. 

This blog post explains what 5S and 6S inspections are, the difference between them and why they are useful tools for your company.

What Are 5S and 6S Audits Used For?


A 5S audit assesses if an organisation is correctly abiding by the five lean principles first coined by the Japanese motor company, Toyota. These are Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Systematise), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardise), and Shitsuke (Sustain). 

Any organisation can utilise the principles to organise and structure its processes and policies. 5S inspections are useful for different industries, including healthcare, corporate, hospitality, and information technology. 


5S vs 6S Audits - What’s The Difference?


The main difference between the two is a single 'S' which stands for Safety. Therefore, a 6S audit is basically a 5S one with extra attention to safety.

6S audits include safety as a vital element of running an efficient business but that doesn't mean that 5S doesn't account for safety at all. Rather, 6S is better suited to companies that operate in high-risk or dangerous working conditions. For example, a corporate office job presents fewer safety risks than a car manufacturing company.

When deciding which kind of inspection to use, take your business's facilities, risks, worker needs and existing auditing procedures into account. More is not better. So, don’t force the 6th ‘S’ if you don't need to.


Why Use Them?


The principles of these audit types are excellent in guiding organisations to boost productivity, efficiency, safety and sustainability.

Sorting involves decluttering resources, materials, and other factors to only what is essential. Like the pareto principle states, 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Sorting helps organisations to find the 20% that matters.

The next step is to Systemise by structuring how to store your essential items. It’s about making work functions more accessible, organised and efficient.

To keep a Shine on your organised system, you need to maintain your resources, equipment and the other essentials your business needs to function. The aim? A clean, functional and safe working environment.

The Standardise principle is also about maintenance, as it requires you to identify what works from the first three steps and what doesn’t. You can then fix bottlenecks and establish regulated policies and procedures to ensure best practices are part of the norm.

Once processes are figured out and documented, it's time to Sustain them. This is done by creating accessible and standardised frameworks that your workers can and must follow.

Last, but certainly not least is Safety. Safe procedures, best practices, materials, and policies should already be in the back of your mind as you implement the first five steps. Using a 6S audit or 6S inspection checklist ensures that you implement safety procedures including near-miss reporting, incident reporting, risk assessments and more safety management tools.


Final Thoughts


5S and 6S inspections provide excellent support to your business’ systems. Using a well-rounded auditing platform helps centralise the principles so you can manage your workplace safely and efficiently.

If you're looking to implement a mobile platform for your 5S or 6S audits, we've got you covered. is easy-to-use, fast to set up, has customisable workflows, vast integration possibilities and more. Contact us for more information or start your FREE trial:

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Kaarle Parikka

Head of Marketing