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The Visual Workplace and the 2-Bin System

Imagine being a new staff person and entering your storage space for the first time. You would probably have many questions and would be looking for visual signs in your surroundings to help guide you.  Making your storage space a visual workplace has benefits for new and seasoned staff and is vital for keeping the space efficient, safe and organized.

What is the Visual Workplace?

The visual workplace uses symbols, signs, and labelling to quickly communicate important information. Think about how visual signs or aids are used in the grocery store. Arrows on the floor directing you down the aisles, and thanks to the aisle labelling, you are able to find where the pepper is located.  With pepper in hand, you see which cash registers are open because their numbers are lit up. These are all examples of visual cues and signs.

There are lots of visual signs you can include in your storage space, such as floor markings, colour-coded task lists, outlined spaces for tools, posters, and labelling.

Another very practical use of visual aids would be implementing what’s known as the 2-bin system.

 The 2-Bin System and Its Benefits

The 2-bin system is a simple way to know when/how much to restock, and can be useful for places like kit pick-up areas. It works by having a certain number of items in each bin, with instructions about which to take from first, and what to do when the first bin is empty.

  • For example, think of this system:
  • 2 bins full of supplies
  • service users take from bin 1 first
  • when bin 1 is empty it is set aside, and bin 2 is put into rotation
  • meanwhile bin 1 is re-stocked and ready to rotate in when bin 2 is empty

With the right labelling, this becomes a self-sustaining system where the empty bin serves as the visual signal for staff to restock.   A similar system can also be used for stock movement with community agencies, or for your own ordering from your suppliers.

Has this given you any ideas for how visual aids can assist you and your team at your program? We’d love to hear your ideas and see photos.  We’re always available to email at

-Lucas (OHRDP)

Storage Areas Need Cleaning Too!

Storage Space Cleaning Party!

Storage spaces regardless of their size and shape are in need of constant attention. Although we’d like to tidy them up once and walk away – unfortunately they need TLC. Regardless of shape or size, they can become a dusty area with the occasional cobweb or spider!

Set Your Goals

At your harm reduction program, your storage area for supplies should not be a place where you dread to tread. So, regardless of what it looks like at the moment, visualize your storage space being as organized and clean as possible. In your mind’s eye, create the most efficient lay-out within the actual parameters of your available space. Picture areas mapped out and labelled for each supply. Consider your storage area receiving consistent attention, just like other important spaces in your building.

Remember, many of the products you are storing have been sterilized. So, if your boxes are covered with dust, or sitting on a damp floor – these things could compromise the quality of the supplies.  Temperature and humidity control are important too, so that supplies don’t freeze or overheat. You also need to be mindful of expiry dates, so use ‘first in first out’ with expiration dates facing so they can be easily read.

Plan an Afternoon

Use your best judgement, how many hands will you need to turn what you have, into what you want, in a single afternoon? Talk with your team and develop a plan. Share your vision for the storage area to make sure it works for the whole team.  With approvals in hand, set the date and gather the materials you’ll need to make it happen.

Some of us are old enough to recall the song, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Well, if you have to roll up your sleeves and do this, why not make it fun? Gather your posse and crank some tunes. During an afternoon of moving boxes, sweeping, mopping, wiping down walls, sanitizing shelves, organizing, labelling, and everything else you’ll be doing – it’s time well spent team building!

-Sticky (OHRDP)

Have Questions?

Reach out to our support team at OHRDP.

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