Creating a world-class safety culture requires commitment from every level of the organization. Through Covanta’s programs, policies and training materials, we strive to create an environment where everyone in the organization is focused on working safely and feels empowered to speak up and call a “time out” if they see something that concerns them.

Employees use the Three Steps to Safety in their daily work to ensure they take the time to identify potential hazards, take steps to control them and are ready for the unexpected. We are also developing and implementing a formal Safe Work Permit process for nonroutine work tasks. A team of field employees has been working on developing this process with piloting of the new permit complete and full implementation expected in the fall of 2021.

Three Steps to Safety


Evaluating the Efficacy of our Safety Culture

We know that culture drives performance, but “culture” can be a difficult thing to measure. To better understand our safety culture at Covanta, we conduct periodic perception surveys to monitor employee opinions on the status of our efforts. By reviewing these results, we help ensure that our programs and efforts are really impacting our work environments and that we are continuing to improve.

While Covanta monitors traditional safety measures such as injury statistics, we are also developing leading indicators that help us have a better real-time understanding of our safety efforts. We focus on measuring the three Ps: Participation, Performance and Potential Opportunities for Improvement.

We expect all employees to be active participants in our safety culture, to perform well against safety metrics and to help identify and address potential concerns. Because our focus is on ensuring quality observations and not merely “checking a box,” we believe the third “P”—identifying potential opportunities for improvement—is perhaps the most important of these measures.

Taking Ownership of Safety

We have several programs in place to build our safety culture by empowering Covanta employees to take ownership of safety practices in the workplace. These include:

  • Leadership training: all Facility Management, Supervision and Corporate employees must complete this six-part series—which is designed to develop safety leaders—within six months of hire or promotion.
  • Peer mentoring and feedback: everyone benefits from constructive analysis that leads to greater team awareness. For example, when there is a near-miss incident, we focus on examining the behavior behind the event rather than taking punitive action.
  • Green Hard Hat program: new employees wear green hard hats to make themselves easily identifiable to colleagues who can provide guidance regarding safe behaviors and protocols. All employees are empowered to take ownership of their personal safety and that of their peers.
  • Tailgate Meetings: 10- to 15-minute “Tailgates” are held weekly, at the beginning of shifts. Topics may include new processes, regulatory changes or content resources developed by other Covanta employees.
  • Communicating best practices: Covanta’s intranet site dedicates a page to safety with articles based on current events, awareness programs and employee newsletter accomplishments. Each month, facility meetings focus on a main safety topic for group discussion.
  • Injury and Serious Near Miss leadership review calls: each month, all recordable injuries and Serious Near Misses (SNM) that occurred in the previous month are discussed on a conference call with senior management. All facilities are invited to join, learn from each other and share ideas on how to prevent the same or similar incidents from occurring again.

Recognizing Safety, Health & Environmental Excellence
Since 2011, Covanta has been awarding SHE Gold Star Awards to facilities demonstrating commitment to Safety, Health and Environment (SHE). In 2019, four facilities were honored, including SeMass, Hempstead, Huntsville and Lancaster. All four SHE Gold Star winners were injury free in 2018, and two had zero environmental events during the year. Each demonstrated a strong safety culture, made safety and environmental improvements at their facilities, and took part in community outreach efforts.

“Why is Safety Important to You?”

While Covanta employees are committed to the safety of their coworkers, contractors and themselves, each person has a personal motivation for wanting to come home safely every day. To underscore the importance of this personal motivation behind why they work safely, we often ask our employees why safety is so important to them. What is their own story or “why” that inspires them to work safely? Remembering the reasons we work safely every day and discussing these topics openly are foundational to building and reinforcing a strong safety culture at Covanta.