Publications : 2022

Racz L. Embracing an Agile and Lean Six Sigma culture for worker health. Presented to Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals national meeting, Las Vegas, NV, Mar 2022.


Agile and lean six sigma (LSS) management and process improvement frameworks have improved productivity, reduced waste, and increased quality in a variety of industries. These approaches also have the potential to help organizations advance occupational safety and health. Manufacturing, construction, and healthcare industries have realized impressive results both financially and for their worker well-being by adopting process improvement cultures. Typically, only a small contingent of a company’s workforce, which seldom includes occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) professionals, are formally trained in agile and LSS methods and tools. Given the potential for agile and LSS tools to mitigate business risk of all kinds, OEHS professionals would benefit from building formal training of these types into their professional development with an eye towards fostering a process improvement culture throughout the organization. Many areas of our modern economy are still very labor intensive, where human capital is at a premium, but lack sufficient occupational safety and health resources. Agile or LSS-trained OEHS professionals can champion, encourage, and lead teams to identify and mitigate, often in real time, the hazards that they face. This presentation will discuss process improvement tools as well as case studies of organizations that have embraced agile and LSS cultures to advance occupational health and safety. By focusing on people and processes, successful agile and LSS cultures can empower individuals at all levels of an organization to improve worker conditions, including incorporating more effective exposure controls, rather than relying on only a small number of trained industrial hygiene and safety professionals. There is no doubt that OEHS professionals are critical to protecting worker health and safety, but their influence can be increased dramatically by breaking down barriers to worker protection thinking and enlisting participation from the workers they are charged with protecting.