Posted by: JC Gatlin | November 8, 2009

3 Steps to Sustaining the 5S System on the Jobsite

Just this weekend, a Realtor® took some clients to one of our communities, where the couple noticed a difference in our home sites from other builders. The Realtor® called me afterwards, describing our home sites as “immaculate” compared to other jobsites in the neighborhood.

I mentioned this to the Construction Professional and he said, “Thanks. I’ve really been talking to the crews about sweeping and straightening  before they leave.” This is a huge first step.  

While 5S does promote daily straighten and sweep, there is a key distinction between 5S and “standardized clean-up.” The key concepts here are to improve work flow and to standardize so that anything out of order becomes obvious.

And while one-on-one communication is critical, that alone will not sustain a 5S system on the jobsite — unless you can physically be at every job, every day, to communicate your expections to every crew.

Think of a 5S System as visual management over the jobsite. In other words, how can you get the jobsite to communicate your standards even when you’re not there to explain them?

Step 1

Implement a labeling system. Post short, direct messages throughout the jobsite as both directions and reminders.

One Construction Professional posts “BUILDING PARTNERS: PARK ON THIS SIDE OF THE STREET” bandit signs along the curb to control traffic flow, and “HARD HATS REQUIRED” signs beside each permit board.Presentation1


Another Construction Professional spray paints “SWEEP DAILY” on the slab floor as a visual reminder to his Building Partners to “leave the jobsite as neat as they found it.”CIMG0171

Another Construction Professional painted signs directing Building Partners where to place unused rebar and other materials that will need to be returned or recycled.Block


Step 2

Post Hot Spot Sheets near the area where work will be performed. Your Building Partner will see it, and be reminded to pay extra attention to perform a task the right way. Eliminate recurring inspection failures, return trips to complete or redo work, and especially future warranty concerns.

One Construction Manager reviews Hot Spots daily before he begins his evening walk to check and lock houses. For each Building Partner who will perform work the next day, he prints the appropriate Hot Spot Sheets then tapes them near the area where the work will be performed.Hot Spot

Step 3  

Communicate your expectations on the FTQ inspection sheets. If a Building Partner leaves the jobsite without straightening and sweeping – then it falls on you, the Construction Professional, to clean-up after him. But deduct points on the inspections sheet and write “Had to clean-up and sweep after the crew left” in the notes.

On the flip side, if a crew is good about following your 5S System, praise them – both on the FTQ inspection sheet and with a phone call to the crew leader.Picture1

Your 5S System must follow each Building Partner through every activity in the building schedule. As a Construction Professional, you’ve got your work cut out for you. And you’ll have to think strategically. Every activity presents its own set of challenges making 5S implementation difficult, and the temperament of your Building Partners to follow standards will change from day to day.

Understanding that holding your Building Partners accountable means that the buck stops with YOU, the Construction Professional. You’ve got to follow your 5S System before your Building Partner will.

Susstaining a 5S System on your jobsite won’t happen overnight – but you can start today. And, to achieve it, implent visual management. Be prepared to consistently remind and educate each crew about maintaining standards. The 5S System on the jobsite may begin with the Construction Professional, but the discipline is sustained through the Building Partner.Clean up

© November 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. JC, this is fantastic blogging. Great explanation of a construction site version of 5S, especially the correlation with visual management.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Lombard, Michael Lombard. Michael Lombard said: Check out: 3 Steps to Sustaining the 5S System on the Jobsite […]

  3. Great Blog! Lets not forget to mention how 5s saves money in the process which is what this is really all about. If it’s a raving fan as a realtor or a $100 we saved by not losing rebar caps, 5s is a critical part of PDCA and lean business.

  4. Excellent visual examples, and really fantastic ways to communicate jobsite standards. A key challenge that many Construction Professionals face now as opposed to years past is the inability to be on every job, every day, for every activity. Being spread across multiple locations forces efficiency in communication. Signs, posted sheets, marked slabs; all great ways to say things without being present.

  5. Taking these ideas a bit further, being spread across multiple locations also forces us to be collaborators. Long gone are the days when the old “boss-man” mentality rules the day. The boss-man can’t be everywhere at once, so he needs to have capable building processes performed by capable teams. This requires less bossing people around and more partnering with people to utilize their knowledge, skills, and creativity. We shouldn’t view the relationship between contractor and employees/subs as a top-down hierarchy like we traditionally do; we should flip the hierarchy upside down and make the contractor a support mechanism for the employees/subs…the people that actually create value for our homeowners.

  6. Good work JC! As a Construction Professional it helped to see some other ideas on how to implement 5S. I think everyone has areas of 5S they struggle in but by commuicating what other people are doing that works helps the entire Enterprise learn and grow.

  7. JC
    Yes I need some help and this blog did help. Great job. Good explanations with good visuals. Thanks for your hard work to make it better for me.

  8. […] need to be updated? Do you need to create a Hot Spot Sheet? Can you implement visual management or 5S on the jobsite or in the work […]

  9. […] Tool # 1—5S Visual WorkplaceWe all know about 5S by now, I’m sure (check out JC’s excellent blog post). It’s a fantastic tool that can really help us create visual control of the workplace, so that […]

  10. you are doing a good job. nice blog

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