2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'

Jim McNerney

Chairman, President & CEO
The Boeing Co.

The Boeing Co., located in Chicago, is the world’s leading aerospace company. It employs more than 158,000 people.

Why is safety a core value at your company?

A safe and healthy workplace is essential to our own well-being as employees, as well as that of our customers and communities. Ultimately, it’s a critical driver to improve our productivity and performance, which makes us more competitive and fuels our growth as a business.p>

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

Safety leadership starts at the top. Boeing’s Executive Council, which I lead and whose members are the leaders of our business units and functions, has set a challenging target to improve our company’s lost workday case rate by 25 percent over five years. We hold ourselves accountable to meet this target, and we monitor performance regularly and closely. This goal is among those tied to our top leaders’ annual performance evaluations.

Our leaders work together to integrate safety across our company, improve the design of targeted manufacturing processes, identify and correct practices that are potentially unsafe, and develop plans to address our highest injury rate trends.

Our first-line managers work to consistently execute safety – from orientation and training, to regular safety walks, to investigating accidents when they do occur and identifying ways to prevent them in the future.

Finally, our employees are the experts on how to create and maintain a safe environment in their workplace and how to integrate workplace safety into their day-to-day activities. Their active engagement is critical.

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

Our greatest challenges are finding ways to actively engage all 158,000 employees and ensuring we execute consistently across our entire company. While many sites and teams have made tremendous progress on safety, we owe it to ourselves to do even better and strive for injury-free workplaces.

We build commercial jetliners, military aircraft, rotorcraft, satellites, launch vehicles, and a host of other products and services that connect, protect and defend. It’s a heavy manufacturing environment that is not readily automated.

We’re working to overcome these challenges in three important ways. First, we’re establishing a common safety management system at all of our major manufacturing facilities across the globe that will conform to the OHSAS 18001 standard. The benefits of this approach to employees and the company are clear: one safety language, a consistent way to identify risk and shared expectations.

Second, we’re embedding ergonomics and workplace-safety principles early in the design of manufacturing processes, and we’re making targeted investments where needed. And third, we’re involving employees and leaders alike by providing tools and resources to help drive improvements. Then we’re challenging ourselves to share successes and learn from achievements around the company to prevent injuries.

How do you measure safety What are the leading indicators that show you how safe you are, and where do you see room for improvement??

We rigorously track our safety performance across our company and in our business units, sites and programs with a number of leading and lagging indicators. In addition to the traditional safety metrics, we measure leadership and employee involvement, track accident investigations, and regularly assess our sites, among other activities. We’re continuing to improve these measures.

We’re also working to ensure we track our investment strategies to make our products even safer to build and maintain, as well as how we involve all employees.

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