The backbone of the 5S System is Standardize. This step helps facilities program previous steps into routine tasks. Standardizing steps also helps create uniformity in the workplace so 5S duties are seamlessly integrated into daily, weekly, and monthly work schedules.

Formulate Standards

Regular 5S team leader meetings should be used to formulate facility-wide 5S standards. Managers should consult workers for input during Standardize. Unnecessary or obsolete duties can then be prepared from the list.

Once a formal duty list is developed, seek management approval for a standardized implementation. All potentially affected managers (maintenance, safety, production, etc.) should have an opportunity to review duty lists prior to implementation.

Once management has approved a list, work area maintenance standards can be uniformly applied throughout a facility. These new duty assignments and related checklists should be shared with workers and implemented immediately. Ensure assigned duties are strategically posted within work areas so they are clearly displayed and easy to reference. Duties can then be completed autonomously, decreasing management requirements and clarifying worker responsibilities.

Many other elements of the 5S System also require standardization. Document these standards and post them at strategic facility locations. As an example, in-house visual communication standards now should be documented. Minimum and maximum fonts and pictogram sizes should be described, along with a standardized system of color-coding.


Colors help rapidly convey information to workers and others. Create a standardized color scheme in which colors are associated with hazard or safety categories, then communicate this scheme to employees so that all visual communication follows these standards.

Post a printed legend for 5S visual communication at strategic facility locations. Make sure to follow all governing codes and standards. Reserve colors already established by OSHA/ANSI for their respective safety issues. This will reduce confusion and help increase recognition.

Workers must be encouraged to familiarize themselves with these new 5S label and sign standards. Adhere to them whenever new labels and signs are printed. Foster facility-wide acceptance by rarely changing color standards.

Continual Application

All steps in the 5S System should be continually applied to achieve total Standardization. Even though work environments will change over the life of a facility, each step must continue to function and be adapted to change. 5S team leaders should help the system evolve by involving workers in 5S meetings and seeking ideas to continually improve 5S standards. The net result is a Standardize system that remains relevant and is always helping a facility be the most efficient and safest workplace possible.

Put STANDARDIZE into Action:

1. Managers meet regularly with workers to review the 5S System.

2. Implement employee-provided ideas once management approves.

3. Allow flexibility in 5S by providing room for continual adjustments.

4. Involve internal system leaders, such as ISO managers, in 5S to reduce system redundancies and improve support.

5. Update documentation to reflect system changes. Ensure 5S labels and signs describe new processes and methods.