Delivering the solution together: Case studies

Culture change through leadership

Shanks Group plc - Safety leadership scheme

Shanks Group plc is a multinational waste management company with operations in Belgium, Northern France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The group's health and safety performance has improved steadily in the past, but slowly.

Backed by a need to increase the pace of improvement and sponsored by the group's main board Shanks introduced a safety leadership scheme in June 2011. The main components of this scheme include mandatory director site safety visits and employee engagement, health and safety training for all directors and a series of key safety essentials applied evenly across the group. Safety leadership visits to sites by directors are tracked and reported on as key director performance indicator, linked to their remuneration.

More than 100 director safety leadership visits took place in the first year of the scheme and feedback from employees has been positive. The scheme isn't the sole factor responsible for Shanks' improved performance; however it is the flagship for an improved emphasis on safety across the group.

In the ten years prior to the introduction of the safety leadership scheme Shanks UK's RIDDOR (>3 day) accident rate had reduced by 32%. Within the first year of the scheme this improved to a 42% reduction in accidents. This enhanced performance is a direct result of a shift in the company's safety culture, driven by strong, visible leadership at the top of the organisation, coupled with an emphasis on employee engagement.

Shanks UK directors taking part in safety leadership training

Shanks UK directors taking part in safety leadership training

Contact: Geoff Smallwood - [email protected]

Building competence

Cory Environmental, EU Skills and ESA - Competence Management System

Cory Environmental are one of the UK's leading waste management companies employing approximately 1,500 people.

The Competence Management System (CMS) was developed through collaboration between employers, Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA). It provides a means of demonstrating technically competent management of permitted activities on the basis of both corporate competence and employees' individual competence.  The scheme requires the operator to obtain certification of their CMS, from a UKAS accredited (ISO17021) Certification Body. This demonstrates that the organisation has the requisite processes and procedures for managing the competence of its employees in accordance with the scheme standard.

In 2010 Cory Environmental embarked on commencing a pilot, in conjunction with EU Skills, to implement CMS at its operational sites, including Transfer Stations, Municipal Depots, Landfill operations and a Material Recycling Facility. Detailed role profiles were developed defining the competences required by employees; competence reviews of staff were carried out through the performance management process; each supervisor/manager was regularly assessed against the required competences; and, where necessary, development and training programmes were implemented. In March 2012 a programme of external audits by certification body Bureau Veritas (BV) were undertaken and Cory Environmental received official certification from BV for its CMS.

Tangible benefits of CMS include:

  1. The competence of a site or facility can be demonstrated holistically by taking into account all competent people at a site rather than one person
  2. Reduces risk of sites/facilities being exposed if technically competent person leaves
  3. Identification and addressing of skills gaps
  4. Incorporates continuing competence as a corporate requirement for updating competence of employees
  5. Role profiles and associated competences are regularly updated
  6. A structure which can be used for succession planning
  7. Recruitment from a wider pool of people for management/supervisory positions
  8. Consistency across sites
  9. Deployment of staff in an effective and efficient way that is risk based and proportionate

Contact: Fiona Cummins - [email protected]

Dorset Action for Safety and Health - induction training package

Dorset Action on Safety & Health (DASH) was formed in 2006 and is primarily a partnership of local authority and private sector organisations involved with waste collection activities across Dorset and some neighbouring areas.

Individual organisations were providing their own training programmes for waste collection operatives in the county. To standardise the level of competence and approach, DASH has developed one highly tailored training course that all partners now use in their employee induction process. The course content has a practical focus and covers tasks such as identifying the hazards of waste collection work, reversing assistant and manual handling awareness, as well as a section on legal requirements. The course materials link to a national educational framework so those who have completed the course receive a recognised certificate of competence.

Both WAMITAB and the HSE supported members of group in the development of the training initiative. WAMITAB explored the educational frameworks in which the course would sit, whilst technical input was secured via HSE to enable production of a DVD, which reinforces the course content and shows the day-to-day hazards faced in the working environment of a refuse collection operative.

A core of council staff from strategically placed local authorities delivers the training. These carefully selected staff were up-skilled to ensure that they have the necessary skills to effectively teach the course material.

Once trained, employees are given a card which provides evidence to avoid them having to repeat the training if moving to another partnering organisation.

This course has been embedded within the local authorities as part of their induction training programmes and several private companies within the DASH Partnership also use it. Several partners have noted a marked decline in both accident and sickness levels since introducing the new training course.

Still from DASH DVD

Still from DASH induction training DVD

Contact: Paul Hancock -[email protected]

FCC Environment and EU Skills - SHEA scheme

Ensuring the safety of employees operating within the waste management industry is a challenge facing many companies throughout the UK.  Guaranteeing that all individuals working within the industry are competent is a complex and costly prospect. Growing legislative requirements, coupled with technological advances, are presenting new threats to operative safety and increasing the need for an assessed benchmark within the industry.

Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills) developed a nationwide scheme called Safety Health & Environmental Awareness (SHEA) (Waste Management). The modular format provides a uniform approach to health, safety and environmental training and is appropriate for all persons who conduct waste related operations, from operatives through to management, permanent or temporary workers.

FCC Environment was the first company to adopt SHEA (Waste Management), providing substantial commitment and contribution towards the development of the scheme. The scheme delivers site and facility specific health and safety training that has been accredited by a recognised body. It acts as a passport scheme and is also affiliated with the Construction Skills Certification (CSCS) scheme allowing utility workers access to CSCS controlled sites for purposes of utilities work without the need to hold a separate CSCS card.

It is envisaged that SHEA waste management will be a step towards creating a minimum standard of health and safety training across the sector that will have a positive impact on reducing the current levels of accidents and injuries. It demonstrates that the industry is taking a proactive step towards addressing its own health and safety requirements.

Contact: Derek Chatting - [email protected]

Creating healthier, safer workplaces

Cory Environmental Ltd - Driver site rules DVD

Cory Environmental is one of the UK's leading waste management companies. They manage in excess of 3.5 million tonnes of waste and recyclables each year and employ over 1,400 people.

Communicating safety rules to visiting customer drivers is a challenge; their focus has always been getting in to the sites, tipping and getting away as quick as possible.

To help communicate important safety and site information, Cory have developed a DVD version of the driver site rules. The DVD includes enhanced content covering information about the revised towing procedures, safety and operational information about the main hazardous areas within landfill sites and key topics such as segregation of pedestrians and vehicles. It also includes advice about how drivers can get assistance without walking around the site.  Copies of the DVD were issued to customer drivers' managers and fleet managers who were then required to complete and return an acknowledgement of the rules.

The content of the DVD was developed with input from staff at all levels within Cory, from directors to landfill managers. This helped to ensure that the messages and information are relevant to every Cory landfill site. By presenting the critical information in an easily accessible format, Cory have been able to better communicate their key messages and site practices to the drivers.

Alongside the use of the DVD, Cory have also introduced site-based interventions to help change negative driver behaviours. Site supervisory staff and site operatives have been empowered to report poor driver practice directly to site management and infringement notices issued directly to the offending drivers and copied to their management. Where a pattern of repeat behaviour becomes evident, the driver in questions is required to watch again the DVD before they are allowed back on the Cory site.

Since the introduction of the DVD there has been a noticeable improvement in compliance with health and safety rules at Cory sites. Cory have received 200 acknowledgements in response to the DVD. Follow up letters are being sent to those who have yet to respond.

Contact: Niall Penny - [email protected]

Cory Environmental Ltd - Reversing assistant DVD

Cory Environmental is one of the UK's leading waste management companies. They manage in excess of 3.5 million tonnes of waste and recyclables each year and employ over 1,400 people.

It became apparent that many operatives, including drivers, did not properly understand the reversing assistant role, the duties and responsibilities of which were often confused with those of a banksman, a different role altogether.

As a result of feedback from the crews, it was agreed that a DVD targeted at drivers and loaders acting as reversing assistants, would be an effective way to help communicate the differences in the various roles; the purpose being to avoid people and vehicles entering the crush zone during collections, hence preventing accidents from happening.

The DVD includes typical scenarios, using footage of Cory crews in practice. It clarifies the role of the reversing assistant, visually demonstrates the two accepted hand signals and reinforces that it is the driver who is responsible for the vehicle. It also reinforces the message that Cory expects all reversing manoeuvres to have a reversing assistant deployed unless doing so puts the reversing assistant at more risk than would be averted by their deployment.

The DVD is played to all Cory crews, after which there is a practical assessment during a collection to ensure that the key messages have been understood and that correct practices are being followed.

The DVD supplements other Cory produced Driver and Operative Induction DVDs and handbooks.

Contact: Graham Donaldson - [email protected]

May Gurney Public Services Sector - vehicle mounted CCTV system

Working under a new 14-year contract, in April 2012 May Gurney assumed responsibility for delivering a new waste and recycling collection service on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council. The contract includes the provision of vehicle mounted CCTV systems, which appealed to May Gurney's desire for innovation. The introduction of the CCTV system was to address:

  • the growing trend of violence towards staff undertaking public services;
  • to improve safe behaviour across the contract; and
  • to enhance the capability to supervise operatives.

The CCTV system comprises 4 cameras: one pointing forwards, one on each side mirror pointing rearwards, and one at the rear. The system utilises the mobile phone network to stream live images onto a web site where specialist software is used to manage the information.

The main benefits realised to date have been the ability to provide additional supervision of crews during service change, where physical supervisory checks have been supplemented by remote monitoring in order to help embed safe working practices. One advantage of this approach is that the crews are seen working normally, not otherwise affected by a physical visit. This capability also encourages crews to be more aware of their actions at all times which, as a result, should lead to a significant reduction in incidents.

The company has been able to use CCTV images of incidents to help determine route causes and share learning points in relation to the contract and also more widely within their business. Public awareness of the remote monitoring system may also have had a positive influence as there have been no major instances of abusive or violent behaviour on the contract to date. Other wider benefits include reduced third party damage claims.

Contact: Richard Murray - [email protected]

Customising support for SMEs

Organics Recycling Group of the Renewable Energy Association - SME support

The Organics Recycling Group (ORG) of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) (previous the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR)) is the UK's principal organisation representing the bio-waste industry.  It is estimated that over 90% of ORG members are SMEs ie companies with less than 250 employees. 

Over the last few years, ORG has introduced a package of health and safety support to its SME members in recognition that SMEs often do not have specialist knowledge outside their primary area of activity, particularly in respect to the complex and changing world of HSE legislation and regulatory compliance.

The tailored support includes:

  • Development of in-house industry specific training courses. In particular, running annual health and safety events combining guidance from industry experts with a practical demonstration of how this knowledge can be applied on a working site;
  • Website with up to date H&S information for members;
  • Publishing a quarterly health & safety newsletter to keep members informed of the latest developments, as well as highlighting recent health and safety news and information in a fortnightly e-news;
  • A revised health & safety guide for the composting industry, specifically directed at site manager level;
  • A dedicated working group to promote health & safety best practice within the industry;
  • Establishing a list of 'Responsible Persons' from sites to provide key individuals with relevant information which they can use for dissemination to their operatives on site;
  • Quarterly health & safety monitoring surveys of the bio-waste industry. Feedback from members has been good which demonstrates that members are actively engaging with the scheme. The data will be used to benchmark the biowaste sector with the wider waste industry as well as identify causes of accidents and incidents.

A small, dedicated team that are able to offer telephone technical support to members supports all of the above activity. In addition, to facilitate members in accessing specialist advice outside ORGs core area of knowledge, the association works closely with affinity partners who are able to provide advice in topics including health and safety, as well as human resources, law and individual health care.

ORG annual health safety and health event practical demonstration

ORG annual health safety and health event practical demonstration

Contact: Gordon Thompson - [email protected]

Worker involvement

Viridor Waste Management - Act! On initiative

Viridor is one of the leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies in the UK working with more than 90 local authorities and thousands of private customers.

To help reduce accident incidence rates, Viridor developed Act!On, a multi-faceted health and safety initiative focussing on competence and understanding the risks. The Act!On initiative is targeted at staff at all levels and is underpinned by a staff induction video released in March 2011. As part of the induction, staff are required to obtain a 100% pass rate to a 20 question health and safety test. In order to reflect Viridor's diverse workforce and to maximise reach, the video and test are available in eight languages.

All Viridor employees were required to watch the video and successfully complete the test over a four month period.

As a way to encourage active engagement, the company's staff and sites were used in the filming, including Viridor's MD who gives a brief introduction to set out the company's core health, safety and environmental values.

To reinforce the training initiative and ensure consistency, the key safety messages were cascaded through the business via line management meetings, 'toolbox talks' and targeted training across the business.

In May 2011 a monthly newsletter was introduced which is distributed electronically via email, and also as hard copies displayed on site notice boards. The topical newsletter includes an 'in Court' section which gives real-life examples of accidents within the industry and beyond. The aim of the newsletter is to encourage discussion and awareness of H&S issues.

Act!On was fully backed by Viridor's Board of Directors and senior managers throughout the business. The involvement of senior management from the outset gave the initiative the profile and priority it warrants.  All company Directors watched the video, had to pass the test and a group photo and statement from the MD was communicated internally to demonstrate the importance and commitment required of all employees.

The training package was complemented by a new Health & Safety Excellence Award Scheme where employees were encouraged to get involved and submit ideas to improve health and safety in the workplace and gain recognition for their efforts. Awards of £200 were made quarterly for the best idea from each of the four regions and a one-off prize of £500 was given to the best idea of the year.

In terms of results:

  • Formal training increased by 85% from 2,588 training days in 2010 to 4,788 in 2011. Approximately 75% of all training delivered was health and safety.
  • From March 2011 to June 2012 Viridor recorded no serious accidents with a measurable increased implementation of risk control standards across the business. The IR fell 42% in the calendar year 2011 and 53.9% by 31 March 2012.
  • In October 2011, a survey of 20% of employees which covered health and safety, ethics and communications placed Viridor well in the "calculative" range of the Parker and Hudson model of organisational safety culture. The consultants carrying out the survey commented that such consistency of H&S standards across a business was rare.

Contact: Ian Powell - [email protected]

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Updated 2023-02-21