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Frontiers March 2013 Issue

BOEING FRONTIERS / MARCH 2013 15 With a high-tech, computerized bolting tool he affectionately called the “yellow monster,” mechanic Dan Lingle tightened a long line of fasteners on the lower panel of a 737 wing. The hand-held electronic tool is attached to a tall, yellow, adjustable base that rolls across the factory floor. Lingle can program a built-in computer to automatically apply the right amount of torque to bolts of any size. “This new tool is light-years ahead of what we used before,” he said. “It does a lot of the work electronically; I don’t have the same muscle fatigue. It’s a huge process improvement.” After 19 years in wing-body join at the 737 factory in Renton, Wash., Lingle has felt his share of stress and strain. Surgery in 2011 on a torn rotator cuff and other muscle injuries kept him off the job for three months. The electronic bolting tool is one example of how continuous improvement, collaboration and personal responsibility for safety are driving a significant reduction across the company in lost work time due to injuries. Boeing has made progress in reducing workplace injuries and raising awareness about safety, but accidents in 2012 led to several serious employee injuries and one fatality. Improving workplace safety and enterprisewide efforts to eliminate all injuries are top priorities. Across the company, employees are taking an active role in creating a safer workplace, one day at a time. Over the past five years, Boeing has cut the number of work-place injuries by 17 percent—noteworthy progress. But that’s not enough, Boeing leaders say. “We must transform Boeing into a leader in workplace safety, just as we are in product safety,” said John Tracy, chief technology officer and senior vice president of Engineering, Operations & Technology. As employees increasingly eliminate safety hazards from the workplace, a team of senior Boeing executives is defining key steps to accelerate elimination of workplace injuries altogether. The goal of the task force is in its name: Go for Zero. The task force is led by Kim Smith, vice president of Boeing Environment, Health and Safety. It will make recommendations to the Boeing Executive Council in April. Boeing employees can learn more about the team in the Feb. 10 Go for Zero article in Boeing News Now. Meanwhile, safety awareness and improvement activities are making a difference at Boeing sites across the enterprise. At the production facility in Ridley Township, near Philadelphia, John Ellmore is an H-47 Chinook Final Assembly inspector and safety chairman for UAW Local 1069. He said the site identified and resolved more than 200 poten-tial hazards in 2012 through systematic safety inspections and listening to employee concerns. Safety improvements range from refurbishing aircraft work stands to new inspection processes for safety equipment designed to mitigate the possibility of a serious injury. “Employees and site leaders work together to increase safety awareness, and it’s made a noticeable difference during the last five years,” Ellmore said. Injuries that result in lost work time have been slashed nearly 60 percent—even as production rates increased. Employee teams are active in monitoring progress and identifying other areas for improvement. “Identifying safety risks and taking action are key,” said Obie Jones, director of operations, Boeing Military Aircraft Operating Executive organization. “Because we trust one another, we can look for and solve potential issues and move on. It’s good for everyone.” It’s a similar story of safety improvements for Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s advanced research group, where injuries that result in lost work time were cut by 20 percent in 2012, according to Mark Burgess, chief 0 PHOTOS: (From far left) A customized chair allows painter Greg Bracelen to work underneath a 737 fuselage without the strain of bending or reaching in awkward positions; the task of tightening strut links was moved from inside the 737 wing to outside, helping eliminate work in a confined space for mechanics such as Mike Dawley; mechanic Dan Lingle in 737 Final Assembly uses an electronic bolting tool that reduces muscle and joint stress and fatigue. MARIAN LOCKHART/BOEING Sealer Tami Wagner places a safety cone to alert 737 final assembly workers to potential trip and fall hazards. JIM ANDERSON/BOEING


Frontiers March 2013 Issue
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