Safety First! (And Second! And Third!)

At Waste Management, safety is a core value, consistently influencing behavior throughout our organization. This is for good reason: The U.S. federal government ranks trash and recycling collection among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States, with drivers and collectors facing risks from motor vehicle crashes and unique workplace hazards.

Our Philosophy

For more than a decade, we’ve lived by our formalized safety philosophy, Mission to Zero™ (M2Z). The core of the M2Z philosophy is zero tolerance for unsafe behaviors by all employees, with a goal of eradicating all accidents and injuries through coaching and knowledge building. Our safety program includes thorough training, standardized rulebooks and a suite of industry-leading programs, such as installation of video event recorders in more than 95 percent of our collection and support vehicles across the United States.

Safety Vision Statement

World-class safety is achieved when committed employees embrace safety as a core value and act consistently to influence behavior. Safety should not be considered only a “priority,” but instead a core value with no compromise.

With roughly 17,000 Waste Management trucks on the road each day, vehicle safety is a strong focus. Each year we invest approximately $500 million in the maintenance of collection vehicles and $100 million in maintenance and repairs for heavy equipment. We inspect each vehicle twice daily to support proper operation and tie preventive maintenance inspections to vehicle usage rates. These investments in fleet safety, driver training and onboard equipment have helped us decrease reported vehicle accidents by 57 percent from 2007 through 2015.

Driver Training

We provide on-the-job training and evaluation programs for our drivers who meet and/or exceed U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. Newly hired drivers undergo more than 80 hours of training, in both the classroom and on the road, with an experienced driver. As part of the training process, evaluations are given at 30, 60 and 90 days. We conduct driver briefings each morning before drivers begin their routes. We monitor to assure compliance with federal regulations for the maximum number of hours spent behind the wheel and require all drivers to pass a general physical and meet DOT physical requirements.

Our Driver Training Center, located in Fort Myers, Florida, supports our drivers around the country. The Center provides hands-on as well as computer lab courses and classroom training on critical safety rules and operating practices, with interactive stations devoted to procedures such as safe lifting, the Hazardous Energy Control Program (Lock-Out/Tag-Out) and vehicle inspections, among others. Drivers undergoing this intensive training program serve as mentors in their areas, spreading what they learn across the country.

SAFETY Defensive Driving System

Waste Management Safety Services has developed a new, comprehensive professional driver program specific to waste-industry vehicles.

The waste industry, and the transportation industry in general, has spent many decades using “canned” programs not authored for commercial truck operation. The more popular of those off-the-shelf programs were developed more than 50 years ago and were designed for more simplistic driving environments compared to those conditions Waste Management frontline employees face with their large commercial trucks. The new Waste Management SAFETY Defensive Driving System specifically addresses complex refuse truck operation.

SAFETY is constructed around six operating principles, each meant to help drivers manage specific roadway hazards:

· SEE 3-6-9
· ADVANCE your Field of View
· FIND Safe Space
· EVALUATE Other Vehicle Behavior
· THINK Outside the Cab
· YIELD Right of Way

The new system addresses the challenges WM’s frontline drivers face and promotes a proactive approach to defensive driving. The WM SAFETY Defensive Driving System will also give WM a competitive advantage, helping to promote safety on the roadway and reduce vehicle accidents.

“This is a differentiator for WM not only in the waste industry, but in the transportation and service sectors as well,” said VP of Safety Services Jeff Martin. “By building driver’s knowledge and skills, and then coupling that with future safety technologies, WM is setting the standard for maximizing the human elements with technology.”

The system is meant to teach a driver how to manage the risks they face on the roadway by detecting and acting early. Training is just the beginning. The principles of the system will be reinforced as part of WM’s culture of continuous improvement. All current WM drivers, as well as all new drivers, will be trained in the WM SAFETY Defensive Driving System.

The Safety Services team is working with each Area on training plans that allow for maximum learning in the coming months, and offering support any way they can.

Safety Technology

Our great strides in safety performances reflect an ongoing strategy to leverage technology in our safety processes. In recent years, Service Delivery Optimization (SDO) has significantly improved our collection and maintenance operations by optimizing our systems through technology that includes onboard computers, routing software and cameras.

A critical element of SDO is DriveCam®, a small video recorder mounted on the windshield of our collection vehicles. The recorder is triggered by certain vehicle behaviors, such as aggressive braking, swerving or a collision. Once an event is captured, the device sends the event to DriveCam personnel, who analyze the occurrence, then send information back to Waste Management field managers for performance coaching.

DriveCam also allows us to appreciate the ways our drivers avoid collisions with defensive driving techniques. We use these events to document and disseminate best practices among our drivers, featuring the best examples of defensive driving in our “DriveCam Play of the Month.”