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

Our Safety Management System

We model our Safety Management System on the stringent provisions of the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), analogous to the OHSAS 18001 standard. VPP is a rigorous and comprehensive safety and health management system that recognizes employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards. In practice, VPP sets performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system. The required verification includes an application review and a rigorous on-site evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.

Thirty-one of our locations have earned the VPP STAR rank of excellence, making Covanta one of the top ten companies in the United States in terms of the number of operating locations recognized as STAR Worksites. Our participating facilities promote effective worksite safety and health performance through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment and worker involvement. STAR facilities must demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards as well as in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.

The VPP recertification process challenges Covanta to strengthen the capabilities of our employees and facilities. As part of this process, Covanta undergoes a comprehensive review by OSHA that includes interviewing our employees to understand firsthand the changes that have been made to improve systems and processes.

Focused on Moving Beyond Zero

While good safety statistics are impressive, our top priority is to ensure that our employees and contractors go home at the end of every day without a workplace injury. The success of our safety program depends on the daily efforts of our employees to understand potential hazards and operate responsibly. We do everything we can to provide them with the resources and training they need to always be safe.

At Covanta, we believe that all accidents and injuries are preventable. We are focused on identifying the root causes for each incident, including near misses. Every incident has three types of causes that must be identified and addressed: material, human and system.

  • Material: the energy source or equipment involved in the incident.
  • Human: those behaviors or actions that the affected person or coworker took to put the person at risk.
  • System: the organizational processes in place that allow or promote the behaviors or actions that workers take or don’t take, or that influence how equipment is maintained.

We focus on identifying potential hazards through internal audits and reviews, including focusing on behavioral aspects of safety. In recent years, we have focused on identifying and mitigating potential line-of-fire hazards, which put workers in the path of energy. Examples include risks associated with materials dropped from overhead, stored energy inside a chemical hose, pinch points produced when closing or opening equipment access doors or working around moving equipment such as fork trucks.

Line-of-Fire Hazards

Taking Ownership of Safety

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

  • Communicating best practices: Covanta’s intranet site has a microsite dedicated to safety that contains articles based on current events, awareness programs and employee accomplishments. Each month, facility meetings focus on a key safety topic for group discussion.
  • Leadership training: All facility management, supervision and corporate employees, as a condition of employment, must complete within six months of hire or promotion a six-part series designed to develop safety leaders.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Injury and serious near-miss leadership review calls: Each month, all recordable injuries and serious near misses 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.
  • 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.
  • Three Steps to Safety program: Employees go through the steps 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.
  • Stepping Up for Safety program: “Safety Today and Every day is Paramount—Unleash the Power,” otherwise known as “STEP-UP,” is Covanta’s internal leadership management program on safety, health and environment (SHE). Monthly STEP-UP meetings at each facility feature important discussion topics for all participants, including feedback and learnings from recent company events, updates on key safety and health initiatives at both the site and corporate level, and updates on site safety concerns. Insights and feedback during meetings flow back up through the organization, ensuring that these meetings are an integral part of the safety and health communications across the company.

We remain focused on ensuring that our safety culture and procedures are firmly established at each facility. For acquisitions, we work closely with our new employees to help them become fully integrated into our safety program. Corporate, regional, and sister-site plant personnel help new employees get up to speed with Covanta initiatives and programs. It’s critical that all employees are committed to Moving Beyond Zero.

Three Steps to Safety

Investing in Safety Training

Safety, health & environmental (SHE) training is about preparing our employees to respond to hazardous situations while giving them the resources they need to identify those hazards before they occur. Our SHE training materials are constantly evolving to deliver fresh, engaging and relevant content designed to promote employee awareness on specific safety topics, for example, accident prevention, specific hazards and procedures and safety observations.

Corporate operations, maintenance and engineering employees and field employees each receive on average 16 hours of SHE training per year.