Various Voices Fuel Innovation

Various Voices Fuel Innovation

Various Voices Fuel Innovation

It’s the team, not the trophy, that drives the pursuit of safety.

Joseph Fletcher, pictured fourth from left, is a safety and technology integration engineer in Boeing Research & Technology Group at The Boeing Company.

​At a company like Boeing, new aircraft products are unveiled about every 10 to 15 years or so, but when it comes to advancements in safety, we are working as fast as we can, challenging each other to be as agile as possible

This mindset is why we won the 2017 National Safety Council Green Cross for Safety Innovation Award and had two other submissions recognized as finalists the same year. While schedules and quality have a high place in the company's priorities, safety is at the absolute top, so we devote efforts to improvements and we reinforce our safety culture at every opportunity.

The award-winning advancement came in part from listening to voices of end-users and stakeholders outside our organization. Our equipment installation contractor, Control Dynamics, is on site with us every day. We work closely with them to make sure our systems are operational – and our safety is optimal. Working with Control Dynamics, we were able to create the Piranha Lox True Interlock Harness, a fall-prevention system that prevents a worker from proceeding upward unless they are correctly tethered and safe.

This award-winning development came from a mindset that makes safety the first thing we consider every day. Some of our ideas are born of methodical engineering approach, others are simply light-bulb moments where someone says, "Hey, let's try this." In all cases, we pushed the ideas forward quickly to find their strengths and weaknesses. And even when an idea doesn't come to fruition – like using Bluetooth technology to connect harnesses to monitors, for instance – we can learn something useful. In the case of the Bluetooth and the interlock harness, we applied that lesson toward the final version of the fall-prevention system that NSC honored last May.

We are proud of winning the Council's award for safety innovation, and we're happier still that it was for a development that can benefit our own industry as well as other fields. Aviation can be fiercely competitive, but safety is an area in which we'd like to see every company thrive, with standardization and commonality helping everyone.

Safety is a journey, not a goal, which is why even the process of completing the nomination materials offered a benefit to our company. The application process let us examine the precise nature of the challenge, the obstacles to improvement, the benefits of enhanced safety (financial and otherwise), and exactly what success looked like for us.

Our goal is not a statue, but a state of mind that extends to our company, our partners and our industry. By learning all we can, and sharing those lessons, we can help everyone reduce injuries and save lives.

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