At Covanta, we believe that all accidents and injuries are preventable, not inevitable. We view safety and health as both a management responsibility and a personal responsibility: Our employees and contractors, through their awareness of hazards and their actions on the job, are the key determinants of our safety and health performance.
We model our Safety Management System on the stringent provisions of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). And we provide training and communication that emphasizes that every task must be performed with a concern for the safety and health of the respective employee, fellow workers, contractors, visitors, customers and the communities in which we operate. We provide from six to 24 hours of training each year for new hires, and we have ongoing training for employees (inclusive of both field and corporate employees). Subsequently, field employees receive at least 24 hours of training per year.
Our Safety Performance
In 2013 and 2014, we experienced an increase in the number of safety incidents at some of our facilities, as measured through DART (Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred) and TCIR (Total Case Incident Rate). We view these incidents as a matter of serious concern, and we have taken action to reverse this trend. When it comes to safety and health, we can never afford to become complacent.
We have concentrated our efforts to improve safety and health performance at facilities that are experiencing higher rates of incidents. We have also targeted education and prevention programs toward new hires (who are at higher risk as they gain familiarity with their working environments) as well as recently injured employees in order to refresh their knowledge of safety procedures and expected behaviors.
In 2014, our safety programs resulted in four of our North American facilities being recognized for their safety achievements. In fact, 59 percent of our facilities experienced injury-free performance for the entire year. Furthermore, as denoted by improvement in our Covanta Incident Index, the severity of accidents decreased in 2014.
Thirty-nine of our Covanta facilities and/or groups have been awarded the Occupational Excellence Achievement Award for the year 2014 by the National Safety Council (NSC), an organization devoted to the promotion of safety in U.S. industry for more than 100 years. This award recognizes companies/facilities with lost-time injury rates equal to or less than half the rate of other companies within the same industry. We continue to underscore safety awareness and training as a key company priority.
Employees Helping Employees to Stay Safe
We use peer mentoring and support and positive self-coaching as a key element in our safety programs. For example, when there is a near-miss injury, rather than taking punitive action, we focus on examining the behavior behind the event. Everyone benefits from a constructive analysis of the near miss, leading to greater awareness not only for the affected employee but the whole team.
In our Green Hard Hat program, new employees literally wear green hard hats so that fellow employees can lend a hand or provide guidance as to safe behaviors and protocols. We also implemented our Guidance to Personal Safety Program (GPS) in 2013 and 2014 to focus on both personal and administrative improvements. Finally, we continued to implement the STEP-UP safety program, emphasizing communications surrounding safety and health in the workplace. We now include our contractors in the STEP-UP program. In early 2015, we announced our SHE WIN program to facilitate peer support in driving safety performance. All of Covanta’s employees are empowered to take ownership of their own personal safety as well as that of their peers.