Motion is the unnecessary movement of people, and construction sites are full of it. With so much activity, some Motion Waste is unavoidable, but too much can quickly become costly and downright dangerous.



The most dangerous Motion Waste happens without moving our feet. When a worker needs to bend, reach, or stretch beyond his or her comfort level to perform routine tasks, muscles pull, tendons strain, and balance becomes precarious.

Every year thousands are injured and hundreds die on construction sites and Motion Waste plays a significant part. If workers must routinely pick up something heavy, build an impromptu shelf to keep it at a comfortable level. Listen when people say their required movements are causing discomfort. Ask yourself if there’s a way to fix it and make the necessary adjustments to save the hassle later.


Site Congestion:

       Job sites are busy places. Multiple trades-people, inspectors, and managers are all vying for space. Whether it’s dodging each other, bumping into each other, or skipping a portion of a job because it’s too busy, saying they’ll come back later, it’s all Waste.

Try to space people out across the site. If everyone is on the North end, move some to the South. It sounds like common sense, but when deadlines loom and our heads are in the job, it’s easy to miss the small stuff.


Where Are the Tools?:

How often does a worker spend wandering around, looking for a tool that should be at hand? Or worse, going back to the truck or shop for something missing?

5S, the pillar of Lean emphasizing proper equipment care and placement, offers excellent guidance for businesses who can’t find the hammer. It sounds laughable, but those 3-minute stretches looking, really start to matter when they accumulate by the dozens and hundreds.

construction motion waste


       Here are some low-hanging Motion Waste fruit that can add up to big savings:

  • Don’t Park in the Mud: Dirty tires driving across a worksite means someone needs to clean it up at the end of the day. Keeping a clean site means less time cleaning the site.
  • Organize the Permit Box: When papers are all stuffed in, you risk the next person pulling them all out. Create slots and require people to take an extra second not to “stuff-and-crinkle.”
  • Don’t Be a Litterbug: When people leave wood scraps, nails, bits of pipe, water bottles, and lunch wrappers lying around, it often means that someone needs to clean up after you. Clean up after yourself.
  • Start With What You Need: Make sure the starting packet that goes to your team is complete. If it’s not, people will be running around, assembling documents, instead of getting to work.
  • Blueprints and Vital Documents: Most projects have a few key documents that everything hinges on, like blueprints, which are vital to the job’s success. They’re also the same pages we spill coffee on, leave in the sun to fade, the rain to get soaked, and stuff behind the seat of the truck. When we can’t read them anymore, we need to print new ones, leading to a few different Wastes, stacking up into a real headache. Take care of your blueprints!