Like The Herald Business Journal on Facebook!
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Heraldnet.com

The top local business stories in your email

Contact Us:

Josh O'Connor
Publisher
Phone: 425-339-3007
joconnor@heraldnet.com

Jody Knoblich
General Sales Manager
Phone: 425-339-3445
Fax: 425-339-3049
jknoblich@heraldnet.com

Jim Davis
Editor
Phone: 425-339-3097
jdavis@heraldnet.com

Site address:
1800 41st Street, S-300,
Everett, WA 98203

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 930
Everett, WA 98206

HBJ RSS feeds

Boeing limits workers' use of smartphones, iPods

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Dan Catchpole
Herald Writer
@dcatchpole
Published:
EVERETT — Work in a Boeing Co. plant? Take out your ear buds and stop texting.
The aerospace giant adopted new safety standards last month for operations, production and transportation work areas. The new rules prohibit listening to music with ear buds or headphones, limit use of handheld electronic devices such as smartphones and require safety glasses and reflective clothing.
The new standards are about safety, according to Boeing. But some shop floor workers say it has more to do with efficiency.
“You've got people just playing games on their phones or wasting time on Facebook,” said a worker at Boeing's Everett plant near Paine Field. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to publicly discuss the policy.
Now, workers who want to use electronic devices have to go to marked safe zones away from assembly lines.
“A safety zone is an area where people still need to be aware, but the standards don't apply,” said Katie Zemtseff, a Boeing spokeswoman. “So, people can take off their glasses, talk on the phone and listen to music.”
The company started testing the new standards at 25 sites, including Boeing's 777 line in Everett, at the beginning of the year.
Previously, safety requirements varied by site, she said.
Once upon a time, Boeing actually issued headphones with built-in AM-FM radios at some sites.
Workers can still listen to music on radios, just not with headphones.
The change wasn't prompted by a rise in accidents. “We're just always looking to increase our safety,” Zemtseff said.
“There's more ability to be distracted when everybody has a cellphone,” she said.
Walking and texting around an assembly line, for example, might have tragic and expensive consequences.
But so can walking with your hands in your pockets, said Mark Graban, a vice-president at KaiNexus, an Austin, Texas-based software firm that works with companies to improve safety and increase productivity. If you trip with your hands in your pockets, you are less likely to catch yourself.
So both habits — walking while texting and walking with your hands in your pockets — are banned at Toyota's plant in San Antonio, Texas, he said.
“Mobile devices are potential distractions from things like Facebook, but they're also increasingly productivity enhancers,” Graban said.
It is a management issue, not a technology problem. Engaged, motivated employees will focus on safety and productivity, he said.
“If people are screwing around and wasting time, it's not a smartphone issue. The question is, ‘Why are people screwing around and wasting time?'”


Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.
Story tags » BoeingEmployeesHealth & Safety at WorkEmployees

MORE HBJ HEADLINES

CALENDAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus

Market roundup