Delivering on Safety Performance
2018 was the safest year for our EfW facilities in the history of the company. Our EfW facilities saw a 31 percent reduction in incidents year-over-year, while the company’s injury rates, as measured by total case incident rate (TCIR), reached a record low. Our performance in 2019 remained strong.
68% of Covanta facilities were injury-free in 2019.
Covanta performs well above its peer group with regard to safety and health performance. Covanta’s injury rates, as measured by TCIR, are well below the U.S. “All Industry” average and the average for the “Waste Industry,” as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Covanta rates were significantly below the waste industry and national industry averages in 2017. (Note, a significant driver of the high rate of injuries for the waste sector relates to the waste collection business.)
Total Case Incident Rate
Days Away, Restricted, Transfer Rate
A 2017 fatality of one of our heavy equipment operators led us to do a thorough reevaluation of our heavy equipment operations. This included hiring third-party experts to review our heavy equipment operations and work practices. Based on the results of this evaluation, we modified the seats in our heavy equipment to incorporate safety belt systems utilizing bright webbing to both provide superior protection relative to customary lap belts and to provide a better means of verification of compliance with our seat belt policy. More detail of our response to this incident can be found in our previous Sustainability Report.
Leveraging Data to Improve Performance
In 2018, we launched ProcessMAP, a comprehensive workplace safety and health software solution that has streamlined and centralized our previously distinct databases related to areas such as incident management, behavior-based safety, industrial hygiene management and safety auditing. The consolidated system now provides real-time reporting and a more efficient data tracking process, which allows Covanta to better manage associated risks and improve overall safety performance. For example, we can now derive actionable insights from every incident, identify underlying root-causes and take steps to prevent future impacts.
ProcessMAP is being used by employees at Covanta sites to complete:
- Routine safety inspections, such as monthly fire extinguisher checks
- Near miss and potential hazard reporting
- Focused behavioral safety observations on lockout/tagout jobs, line of fire tasks, etc.
- Action items tracking
- Workplace air and noise monitoring results
This information can easily be completed and uploaded to a computer, iPad or mobile phone. More than 10,000 entries were added to the system within the first six months of 2019 alone.
Continuously Improving Safety
We are continually reevaluating our safety programs across our operations and making improvements to our facilities and equipment. We conduct internal “Snap Shot” audits, safety observations and other reviews to monitor our programs and identify areas for improvement. In 2017, we hired third-party experts to review the entirety of our safety programs and culture across the company. Following that review, we implemented a detailed action plan to address their suggestions for improvement. These have included an increased focus on operational discipline, improvements in our investigation process, an effort to improve our management of change process and a general effort to simplify safety procedures and make them more user friendly. We have also implemented related training for employees to help facilitate these changes.
To ensure that we align our resources and attention with those areas that present heightened safety and health risks, we continue to develop comprehensive, actionable Safety Improvement Plans (SIPs) for at-risk facilities that need additional support in advancing safety performance or building a stronger safety culture. Each month, these facilities update senior management on their progress concerning action items laid out in their SIPs. When facilities improve their safety performance, they can leave the SIP program by mentoring another facility. As of 2019, there are eight plants with SIPs that are being formally reviewed by management on a quarterly basis.
Another area for continuous safety improvement for Covanta has been in evaluating the procedures for our tipping areas (that is, the space where trucks dump waste to be processed). Several locations are now piloting radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems (which use electromagnetic fields to identify and track objects) to aid in tipping floor safety by alerting heavy equipment operators of pedestrians in the area. Additional measures are being implemented to minimize foot traffic in these areas, manage and route truck traffic, and encourage improved hauler safety practices.
Integrating Safety Consistently
We continue to expand our network of facilities through acquisitions and organic growth initiatives to serve a wider range of customers. As we grow, 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.