Promoting Safety Behind the Wheel

Safety is Waste Management’s top priority and one of our core values. A large number of our employee population work as drivers, heavy equipment operators and sorters—essential jobs that carry inherent risks.

Robust training is especially important for drivers who operate our collection trucks. To ensure new drivers are successful in their job roles, we have established a three-phase approach. In the first phase, a newly hired driver goes through on-site orientation with management, human resources, market area driver trainers and safety specialists. This allows Waste Management to lay the foundation for drivers to get to know their teams, company policies, procedures and benefits, roles and responsibilities, and safety expectations.

The second phase teaches drivers how to perform the job, with a focus on safety rules, procedures and driving practices. Centralized training for drivers and technicians takes place at training centers in Fort Myers, Florida, and Glendale, Arizona. The new Arizona Training Center, which opened in 2019, includes a 30,000-square-foot maintenance shop, a 10-acre driver training course, classrooms, computer labs and technician workstations to simulate typical experiences at Waste Management facilities.

The third phase of new driver training is a 90-day, three-level, on-the-job training (OJT) program that applies everything the employee has learned about how to safely operate and maneuver our trucks. The OJT program includes a variety of observations, conducted by the driver’s direct manager and a designated site trainer, that range from demonstrating their familiarization of servicing procedures of our trucks to applying the principles of Waste Management’s SAFETY Defensive Driving System, an advanced training program that teaches the critical skills of safe driving (see sidebar above). Since the introduction of OJT, one-year retention of new drivers has increased from 37.5% in 2017 to 76.2% in 2019.

As we continue to expand our capacity to train new hires, we are able to see reduction not only in accidents and injuries, but also in driver and fleet technician turnover. This unique onboarding program positively positions Waste Management relative to other employers recruiting for these critical roles. In addition, early immersion into our company’s culture and values translates to better performance and a longer career with Waste Management.

As an industry safety leader, Waste Management is committed to continuous improvement, at our sites and in the communities where we work.  Learn more about our safety practices in our recently published 2020 Sustainability Report (WM SR2020).