Health and safety
With 9,000 operatives who come into direct, daily contact with the public, drivers and pedestrians, Health & Safety is a fundamental part of the way we do business, and we are always striving to improve our performance.
Tragically, the hazards associated with our work activities have been highlighted with a very unfortunate accident that resulted in one of our employees sustaining a fatal injury, which appears to have been caused by a fall. We continue to work ceaselessly to eliminate accidents that may injure our employees.
Health & Safety performance and programmes
Overall, we have recorded a 40% improvement in injury rates in 2010 and all of our 350+ sites are OHSAS 18001 (Health & Safety Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO 9001 (Quality Management) certified.
Almost 80% of our sites recorded no lost time injuries in 2010, while approximately 45% of our sites have been free of lost time injuries for three years.
RAE (our Risk Assessment Expert) continues to flourish and to be our voice for quality, Health & Safety and environment messages, communicating a variety of hazards and risks to our frontline staff in an engaging and thought-provoking way.
Mandatory internal training programmes conducted through our own 'Campus Veolia' are aimed at making everyone responsible for Health & Safety. Through observation, coaching and training, we watch out for each other and work together to alert our staff to the risks, including behavioural risks, associated with working in the industry.
Andrew Longley is a Health & Safety Assistant based at the Medway site and, as part of his duties, he tours the country advising colleagues on best practice and organising training activities.
Andrew’s career in Health & Safety wasn’t planned. In July 2006, he was part of a team cleaning traffic islands outside the Gillingham Dock gates when he was struck by an 18-tonne lorry that had rolled 25 metres down a hill, after the handbrake hadn’t been secured properly. Andrew was lucky to survive, but suffered permanent damage to his hand, had a broken hip and ruptured his bowel. He was moved from hospital to hospital, contracted MRSA and has bravely endured 20 operations in four years. His commitment to get better is an inspiration to others at Veolia and, following 14 months of rehabilitation, Andrew returned to work with his new role in Health & Safety. He now works hard at everyday accident prevention and is a valuable and significant member of the Veolia family.
Our efforts have seen us become a reference point for the industry, winning the 2010 CIWM (Chartered Institute of Waste Management) award for Health & Safety Best Practice, plus a number of prestigious Gold Occupational Health & Safety awards from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). We were also proud to have been presented with the European SABIC Award for Health, Safety and Environmental performance.
Health & Safety prosecutions
In 2010, Health & Safety was a top priority and it continues to
be. Unfortunately, during the year, we were prosecuted twice for incidents that occurred in 2004 and 2007, respectively. These cases are detailed below.
- In February 2010 at Aylesbury Crown Court, Veolia ES (UK) Limited pleaded not guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, following the accidental death of an employee during a bin collection round in May 2004 within the Chiltern Municipal contract. Although the company was found guilty by the jury, strong mitigation was presented by the company and, in summing up, the judge commented favourably on Veolia's excellent standing in the industry and stated that it was clear the company invested (and continues to invest) heavily in Health & Safety. The awards won by the company were noted and the judge stated that the company "is a leader in every sense and is of positively good character".
2. In August 2010, Veolia ES (UK) Limited pleaded not guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, following the accidental death of an employee while litter picking at the side of a dual carriageway in March 2007. The company was found guilty by the jury. The company has made an application to appeal the verdict. Improvements have been made to our training standards, supervision and systems of work, and we have led the waste industry in introducing the appropriate standards for litter picking on the highway.
Rewarding long service
In recognition of the loyalty that employees display – and the importance of this to our ongoing success – in 2010, we launched a long-service awards scheme. This celebrates the 15th, 25th and 35th anniversaries of employees’ time with Veolia by presenting them with a recognition award.
At Veolia, we have approximately 900 staff with over 20 years of service in the company. Our longest serving employee, a Refuse Collector in London, retired at the end of 2010 with over 51 years of service.
Driver of the Year awards
The ‘Driver of the Year’ is one of the most enjoyable events in Veolia’s calendar. In 2010, we saw 30 finalists put their skills and knowledge to the test for the coveted title. The competition is aimed at finding the very best driver in the company over a number of regional heats, challenges and skills tests, including driving efficiency.
We have a large fleet of 4,700 vehicles and an equal number of drivers in all classes. It is therefore important to us to recognise and reward our drivers each year. This year, our top drivers were Mark Toon-Ginette and Ken Beilby.
Kingswood regional office
Veolia is constructing a new environmentally friendly regional office at the Kingswood Lakeside site in Cannock, which is due to open in August 2011 to house approximately 300 employees. This was seen as a great opportunity to bring some of our central support functions, such as Finance, Procurement and Human Resources, together in one regional office.
The new offices will include environmental technologies so that the building achieves the BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating – including roof-mounted solar panels that provide the domestic hot water, a rainwater harvesting system, which flushes the toilets, and light sensors to ensure the interior lighting is only activated while the office is occupied. In addition to this, the new office will promote proactive wellness activities through the fitness suite and supervised programmes, and the on-site restaurant with its emphasis on healthy eating and nutritional awareness promotions.
Diversity at work
As an organisation with employees covering 88 different nationalities, we embrace diversity and, in 2010, we continued to take steps to ensure that we can communicate with all our employees. Some of the activities we conducted include:
- The first full-staff survey produced in four languages
- Signage at various locations in Polish
- Health & Safety training booklets in pictorial style, so they are suitable for any nationality, with introductions in 16 languages
- Language skills courses offered by Veolia in conjunction with Trade Unions, including ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses, which have been used by more than 100 members of staff
- ‘Campus Veolia’ – our in-house training and development centre – is a thriving seat of learning, open to all employees who want to acquire new skills, knowledge and competencies
As a result of our overall approach to inclusiveness, our staff turnover rate has been reduced from 20.91% (2008) to 13.86% (2010).
Employing 12,000 people, we come across many different characters – some of whom are true heroes and heroines.
In Lambeth, we operate a home-to-school bus service for children with special needs. One of our drivers, Winston Reid, has made it his duty to ensure the children arrive at their destination safe and sound, and with a smile on their faces. With a love for music, Winston ensures that the children get to hear their nursery rhymes on the way to school and reggae on the way back. The kids love him.
Alan Woodman, a street cleaner in Kingston, rescued a baby from a fire. And one of our drivers, Tony Ford, saved some kittens from a skip, moments before it was tipped into the refuse vehicle!
Throughout the year, we receive many letters from residents thanking us for our employees’ actions, honesty and integrity. We are proud of our staff, and pay tribute to all the unsung heroes and heroines out there for their commitment, bravery and personality.
Helping ex-offenders back to work
We have started working with individuals who are on a rehabilitation programme upon release from prison.
A thorough risk assessment is conducted both internally and externally, to ensure all involved are protected. Disclosure is very important to us, but equally so is a new opportunity.
One such individual who has joined the Veolia team is Martin Wier. Martin is part of a team of five and works as a recycling operative in our Birmingham contract.
John Skerry, Veolia Environmental Services team leader, says: “Martin’s work rate and ethics are second to none; he is respectful and polite to others as well as management and the public… it feels like Martin has been with us for years.”
Specialist employment services
Remploy is the UK’s leading provider of specialist employment services for disabled people and those who experience complex barriers to work; it makes a positive difference to the lives of individuals and communities. We have been working together since 2006, forming a partnership that is invaluable to both the employee and the employer.
Mehmet Bilal, our longest serving Remploy employee, is a sorter at one of our Materials Recovery Facilities, with two-and-a-half-years under his belt. Mehmet began as a shy and reserved member of the team back in 2008; through integration in the workplace and encouragement from his fellow employees, he’s settled quickly and has built up his confidence, enabling him to develop strong relationships with his employer and colleagues.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Our staﬀ photography competition celebrates the Veolia Environnement sponsorship of the prestigious Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Our staff competition challenges entrants to submit a photo within the given categories – Veolia Site Nature, Places, Plants and Wildlife – that is worthy of an award. It is open to our staff, children of staff and, for the first time this year, partners of staff. It has been a successful and exciting way to encourage our staff, and the wider communities in which we work, to interact with their environment and to spend more time enjoying the nature available on their doorsteps.
Childcare Vouchers scheme
As part of creating a family-friendly workplace, Childcare Vouchers were launched in early 2011 to provide important tax and National Insurance savings to our staff. The scheme allows a potential saving of £1,000 per annum for childcare, where employees have children up the age of 15, or 16 if disabled.
As part of our Wellness Programme, we launched a confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in 2011. The EAP is part of our benefits offering to employees and is a free help and advice service for all our staff, to assist with many of life’s events – personal or work-related.
Croydon Wellness Centre
Our Wellness Centre in Croydon provides free on-site exercise and gym equipment to assist in injury rehabilitation programmes for our staff. We also provide a drop-in ‘Wellness Clinic’, which offers advice and information to our employees on smoking, weight management, diabetes, heart disease, diet and exercise.
We also offer physiotherapy and rehabilitation programmes under the expert supervision of qualified physiotherapists and personal trainers from Back in Action UK.
Wellness with Derby County Football Club
In partnership with Derby County Football Club, a Wellness Programme has been developed for our operations in Derbyshire.
The first activity of the programme involved all workers (from office staff to operatives and drivers) wearing pedometers for a week. The results were presented back to the team with tips on ergonomics, exercise
Along with useful information about the importance of looking after the body in the workplace, staff were also given a workshop on nutrition. This provided examples of healthy balanced meals, guidelines and figures to enable employees to set nutritional targets for themselves. The programme continues.