Meet the E&E Award-winner: Health & Safety Initiative – O’Donovan Waste Disposal

Taking health & safety (H&S) far beyond a tick box exercise, O'Donovan Waste Disposal was determined to deliver a real step change for the waste management industry, a sector that has traditionally suffered from a poor track record on H&S. Meet the Health & Safety Initiative Award-winner...

The company’s Safety 2015 and Beyond and Beyond initiative, led from the top by managing director Jacqueline O’Donovan, claims to set a new standard for best practice and continuous improvement, particularly in regard to fleet logistics – a real achievement for an SME.

The company started by independently auditing all of its procedures across its business, the backbone of which is a 85-strong vehicle fleet operating in London and surrounding areas. This helped inform the focus of the initiative in three key areas – training, monitoring and innovation.

H&S handbooks were developed for each employee (140 staff in total), specifically tailored to the requirements of the individual role, coupled with a company-wide training scheme. This training was delivered in a multi-lingual format to ensure it met the needs of a culturally diverse workforce. H&S champions were established in each area of the business, and 60 employees were selected to undertake NVQ level 2 & 3 WAMITAB training courses.

The company also invested more than £80,000 in a bespoke fleet management system to highlight any driver training requirements. The system enables real-time monitoring of driving style, speed, braking, cornering and idling – ensuring any required improvements can be made swiftly to protect staff and other road users. To date, the system has delivered a 25% reduction in ‘events’ such as harsh braking or cornering, and a 50% drop in vehicle idling – reducing carbon footprint by 10%.

On the innovation front, O’Donovan’s has taken a leading role in industry-wide plans to improve lorry design, working alongside vehicle manufacturers such as MAN, DAF, Volvo and Mercedes. Jacqueline’s work in helping to steer the development of new HGV cab designs has already resulted in enhancements around driver visibility.

Inclusivity was essential to ensure successful delivery of the initiative. Jacqueline adopted a hands-on approach here. She held regular meetings with the H&S champions, personally delivered training sessions to staff, and communicated regular updates on key achievements to keep the project fresh and the team focused. She also trained as a qualified H&S officer herself. A recent employee surveys shows staff morale to be at an all-time high turnover whilst staff turnover is at its lowest level.

Judges’ comments:

O’Donovan’s targeted approach to tackling hazards, the visible leadership of the organisation’s chief executive, and the innovations that the organisation has invested in demonstrate an ongoing commitment to health and safety performance that is second to none.

Health & Safetry Initiative: Meet the finalists

EDF Energy

EDF Energy’s company-wide health and safety programme “Zero Harm” instils into employees and contractors that safety is more than a target for the utilities firm; it is a mind-set that ensures every job is carried out safely, without risk to health, no matter how important or urgent. This broad-yet-detailed approach has seen stark improvements in EDF’s overall health and safety levels and led to significantly improved safety incident rates since 2012, with 2015 seeing the firm’s best ever safety record.

Collaborative Project Management Services (CPMS)

This innovative health and safety initiative saw the Network Rail Anglia Electrification Portfolio (AEP) team divided into small Safety Action groups and given a team objective for the year, entitled ‘To save a life’. A “generative” safety culture was then promoted by group projects around health and safety, creating a high level of engagement across functions and management boundaries. Safety essentially became a shared team goal that fostered team cohesion and improved general team performance.

O’Donovan Waste Disposal

Safety 2015 and Beyond is a potentially game-changing approach to health and safety. The project invested in the right areas of the business to further improve attitudes and behaviours around health and safety and continuously evolve its processes. Today, O’Donovan boasts an empowered and confident workforce, equipped with the knowledge and skills to practice the highest standards of health and safety in their daily work and flag up any potential risks.


Energy services company Mitie’s ‘Making Safety Happen’ initiative was the result of a number of leadership workshops attended by the group’s senior management team, service line partners and operational supervisors. Making Safety Happen played an important role in helping Mitie achieve more than two million ‘safe hours’ worked without a lost time accident (LTA) or reportable accident. This wide-ranging, detailed initiative underpins Mitie’s on-going commitment to provide engaging and visible quality, health, safety and environmental (QHSE) leadership at all times.

edie staff

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