What is 5S Audit

Guide: 5S Audit

A 5S Audit is the process of evaluating how well a business or workplace is implementing the 5S principles. It aims to identify areas of improvement and ensure consistent adherence to the 5S methodology.
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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

This guide on 5S audits will cover what they are, why they are important, how to do them and tools and templates that can be used to conduct them effectively. 5S Audits are a tool used in the sustainment of 5S to ensure that the level of improvement in the area is monitored, and maintained, and issues are addressed. By implementing 5S audits you should be able to maintain productivity, improved safety, better quality control, and boost employee morale. 

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Understanding 5S Audits

the 5S Cycle, Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise, Sustain

A 5S Audit serves as a structured, systematic assessment designed to evaluate how well an area is adhering to the principles and standards set in 5S according to the 5S methodology. This process is important for any business wanting to ensure the benefits of 5S such as operational efficiency, safety, and overall productivity are maintained in the business


What is a 5S Audit?

5S Audit are a structured method used to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the 5S methodology within an an area or the whole business. Originating from Japanese lean manufacturing, the 5S methodology focuses on five key principles: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. These principles aim to improve workplace organization, reduce waste, and improve efficiency. During a 5S audit, auditors review how well these principles are being integrated into the daily operations of a workspace and identify any opportunities for improvements and actions to address deviations.

Some business my implement 5S audits differently to suit their goals. However, the audit typically involves a visual inspection of the work area against 5S standards as well as a review of documented procedures and performance metrics. A standard checklist or scoring system is used to measure or score each of the five S’s on a scale, such as from 1 to 5. The audit are often done by operators/employees are the area who are trained in 5S, or or by managers and team leaders looking to review the area and ensure a the workplace organization method is being sustained.

Below is an example of what a 5S audit can look like. You can download or free 5S audit sheet from the templates section.

5S Audit Template

Its important to mention that the audit should go beyond just identifying non-compliance or gaps; it should also be used to recognize areas of excellence and best practices. Photos might be taken as evidence, and discussions with employees may be conducted to gauge their understanding and engagement with the 5S principles. The findings from the audit are usually compiled into a report, complete with recommendations for improvement.

Why are 5S Audits Important?

5S Audits serve as an important tool for sustaining the gains achieved through the implementation of the 5S methodology. The first 4 steps of 5S are just the start; the fifth S is an ongoing commitment to the long-term success of 5S. Audits are a feedback mechanism, providing invaluable insights into the actual state of the work environment, as opposed to the perceived state. With continuous day to day work its easy to ignore or not notice standards slipping in an area as equipment gets dirty, tools go missing or maintenance issues arise. These audits help in identifying areas of weakness that need immediate attention and areas where the team excels, creating a roadmap for targeted improvement initiatives.

5S Audits also promote a culture of continuous improvement by holding everyone accountable for maintaining standards. This not only optimizes operational efficiency but also improves safety by reducing hazards related to disorganization or negligence and taking action to address them. 

Additionally, the findings of a 5S audit can serve as useful key performance indicators (KPIs), allowing management to track progress over time by using tools such as 5S Audit trends as seen in the below template.

5S Audit trend and Action sheet

You can find our 5S Audit trend template in our template section.

Finally, audits also provide a structured way to involve employees in problem-solving and encourage a sense of ownership. For example, if an area is dirty and needs to be cleaned to meet the standard, they can take action, or if tools are missing from a shadow board, they can take action to replace the missing tools. Ultimately, the 5S audits act as a catalyst for organizational excellence, driving competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

How to Conduct a 5S Audit (Best Practice)

Step 1: Preparation

Before you start your 5S audit you need to prepare with essential items needed for an effective audit. such as:

  • 5S Audit Check sheet
  • Pen if working on a printout sheet to take down notes and score the 5S audit sheet.
  • Tablet or laptop if completing the audit digitally.
  • Camera (optional but recommended) to capture good practices, positives, and any issues identified that need to be addressed and fed back to employees and operators of the area.

Step 2: Walk the 5S Area

This is the inspection and review phase of the audit. With the 5S audit sheet review each question on the 5S audit sheet and thoroughly look around the area for any deviations from that standard. If no issues are found this can be scored as a 5 out of 5, usually for every issue found beyond that the score drops by 1. So if two issues are found against that criteria, you would score a 3 and note down any issues or actions in the comments section as feedback when the audit is shared with stakeholders.

You will do this for each of the criteria in the audit that focuses on each of the 5S’s for example:

  • Sort: Look for items that are out of place or unnecessary. Are there unused tools, materials, or other items that could be removed?
  • Set in Order: Check if items are in their designated places and whether those places are marked or labeled clearly.
  • Shine: Inspect the cleanliness of the area. Are cleaning supplies available and conveniently located?
  • Standardize: Are there visible guidelines or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that help maintain Sort, Set in Order, and Shine?
  • Sustain: Observe if employees are following the guidelines and if the good practices are being maintained.

As you go through the list, take notes on your checklist. If a certain area excels or needs improvement, consider taking a photograph for later discussion.

Step 3: Talk to the Team

When conducting the audit engage with the employees working in the area. This provides qualitative insights to complement your observations.This will help understand how the level of 5S can be improved needs that have changed in the area and 5S was not updated for such as a new tool needed that does not have a place on a shadow board.

Questions to ask might include:

  • How do you apply the 5S principles in your daily tasks?
  • What challenges do you face in maintaining a 5S-friendly environment?

Step 4: Share the Results

Once you’ve completed the review and employee discussions, you should compile your findings, scores, and photographs into a report. The report should include:

  • Scores for each of the five S’s
  • Photographs to support your findings
  • Specific recommendations for improvement in each area

Present the results to those who use the area, discuss actionable steps for improvement, and ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities to implement the changes.


In conclusion, 5S audits are a useful tool for sustaining and improving the standards set forth by the 5S methodology and offer a structured approach to evaluating not just compliance but also excellence in the application of the 5S principles: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

By conducting a thorough audit process, businesses can identify both areas for improvement and best practices. This not only helps in sustaining operational efficiency, safety, and productivity but also results in a culture of continuous improvement. The outputs from these audits can also provide key performance indicators to drive further improvement.


A: The primary objective of a 5S Audit is to evaluate how well a workspace adheres to the principles of the 5S methodology—Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. This audit aims to improve operational efficiency, enhance safety, maintain high-quality output, and boost employee satisfaction by identifying areas for improvement.

A: The frequency of 5S Audits can vary depending on the industry, the nature of work, and organizational goals. However, it is generally recommended to conduct these audits regularly, ranging from weekly to quarterly, to ensure continuous improvement and sustain the gains achieved.

A: While it’s technically possible to conduct an audit independently, involving your team is highly recommended. Team members offer valuable insights into the day-to-day operations and can provide practical suggestions for improvement, making the audit more effective and comprehensive.

A: While specialized training can be beneficial, it’s not strictly necessary to conduct a basic 5S Audit. A well-structured checklist and a basic understanding of the 5S principles are often sufficient for smaller-scale audits. For more complex environments, however, training or expert consultation may be advantageous.

A: We offer comprehensive and user-friendly templates to aid in your 5S Audit. You can find our 5S Audit Checklist Template for the auditing process and our 5S Audit Trend and Action List Template for tracking trends and actions over time.


Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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