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2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'

February 1, 2010

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William H. Swanson

Chairman & CEO
Raytheon Co.

Raytheon Co. is a technology and innovation leader in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. Based in Waltham, MA, Raytheon has 73,000 employees.

Why is safety a core value at your company?

Providing a safe workplace and keeping our people safe are fundamental to our core values. To me, valuing people starts with providing a healthy and safe work environment. While our team is pleased with the progress we’ve made, we are not satisfied. Our goal is to create an injury-free workplace, to make Raytheon the safest place in the world to work. When you think about it, our goal has to be an injury-free workplace because anything less is unacceptable.

The presidents of our businesses have joined me in signing our Raytheon Environmental, Health & Safety Commitment. It says that we are “committed to provide a safe and healthy workplace,” that we all “continuously strive to eliminate injuries and illnesses and promote the wellness of our employees, customers, contractors, families and suppliers,” and that our company believes “healthy and safe employees are essential for a sustainable business.”

In that regard, I believe as CEO that I have to set the tone and tenor for safety. Every employee has to know the CEO has a passion for making his or her company the safest place it could possibly be. It is my responsibility and one not taken lightly.


How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?

We believe the key is active, continuous engagement with employees and, of course, being a role model for the right behavior. For this reason, our leaders are evaluated on how well they engage around safety in their performance appraisals, and their success is tracked and measured.

Every Raytheon location is required to have an EHS steering committee chaired by the site executive. These committees evaluate site safety performance, analyze trends and recommend corrective action. They initiate programs and projects to improve safety, and serve as a forum to share best practices and ensure effective communication to employees of new initiatives, risks and activities.

All employees are encouraged to join in safety activities and report safety issues through the use of near-miss forms, “ASK EHS” employee feedback Websites and production interruption systems.

Raytheon also has put in place a companywide communications program promoting safety. Presentations and supervisor toolboxes have been created to assist managers in conducting safety meetings with employees.


What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you work to overcome it?

When I think about it, it is not as much an obstacle as an opportunity – that is, the opportunity to achieve continuous improvement and never be satisfied with what we have accomplished. We have achieved significant improvement in our safety performance through the years, but we must stay focused on our ultimate goal of achieving an injury-free work environment.

It was for just this purpose that in April we held a Strategic Safety Dialogue. The half-day session, which I chaired, was attended by site executives representing locations with safety performance below our company’s average. The goals were to share best practices and find out how to overcome various challenges. The group identified four focus areas: improve safety performance within high-risk groups, commitment to OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs, industrial ergonomics and learning initiatives focused on leading causes of injuries. Focusing on these areas has resulted in improved safety performance in 2009.


How does safety “pay” at your company?

Safety is its own reward. It results as well in improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and reduced workers’ compensation costs – all of which provide a competitive advantage. It also is becoming a contractual discriminator with our customers.

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