Reaching for world-class safety at Veolia Transportation

Veolia develops tools to aid safe operations

By Shelly Hall

At Veolia Transportation we are very proud of our safety efforts and programs and the stellar results we’ve achieved across our 130 locations in the U.S. and Canada. However, even in the face of many safety achievements, we never relent on our goal of improving our safety performance. We strive for new ways every day to ensure that safety is present in the thoughts and actions of every employee at every level of our company. This means that our managers and supervisors must fully integrate our safety standards into their daily business practices and decisions, and each employee must consider safe operations his or her personal responsibility.

To achieve a “safety first, service always” mindset, we have developed tools and programs designed to provide the information and technology employees need to meet their goals.

Our proprietary Operator Development Training Program (ODP) is considered an industry leader in both classroom and behind-the-wheel training for bus and paratransit. Each driver spends 40 hours in the classroom, 10 hours in a closed course and 70 hours behind the wheel. Operators must meet 33 performance standards and skills. Our safety trainers at each location provide coaching and strive to model sound behaviors. Training sessions are very participatory, and include comprehensive materials for trainers, operator workbooks for practice and comprehension, and tests to document performance and learning. Our program can be adapted to include the training requirements of our transit authority clients.

SmartDrive technology is installed in the majority of our vehicles, and is used to train and coach drivers. The system automatically captures on video any situation that exceeds a pre-determined G-force, such as sudden stops, swerves or impacts. The video footage captured by this state-of-the-art technology coupled with related coaching from supervisors helps operators become aware of their recurring patterns and identify and correct unsafe driving behaviors.

300:29:1 is a company-wide employee engagement program, which focuses all of our employees’ attention on identifying and eliminating unsafe acts that may lead to an accident. This is based on a long-held safety principle that preventing minor unsafe acts will in turn reduce the number of accidents. We have an extensive communication plan including a variety of reinforcement and training materials aimed at keeping this core principle at the forefront of employees’ minds.

Veolia’s National Safety Audit Program helps to further assure continuous improvement in our safety performance by measuring compliance with federal, state and local requirements. It also ensures we are meeting Veolia’s standards. Every Veolia location is audited annually utilizing customized software and rigorous standards. Audits are followed by detailed action plans for which managers are held accountable.

Safety Performance Data is measured at all locations. We believe in the old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. “Webrisk”, our nationwide database, records accident and injury data for each location following prescribed procedures. This lets us analyze our performance and progress by individual location, by region, and nationwide so we can tightly monitor our performance, compare performance of similar locations, and develop improvement plans where needed. Our actionable “Dashboards” enable each location to see its performance measured against its peers.

DRIVE is an innovative engagement and incentive program for employees. DRIVE is led by employees and supported by local managers. DRIVE teams are formed at individual locations and include a representative from each department. The teams tap the collective expertise of employees to identify potential safety issues and propose solutions to the management team.

The team also engages employees in a variety of motivational programs. All employees are eligible to receive incentives based on the improvement in safety performance at their location. The DRIVE program contributes to building a culture of safety and generates individual and group accountability.

Safety is our most deeply held value and top priority. We remind each other continually that achieving “world-class safety” is dependent upon building a team culture where every employee considers safety his or her personal responsibility. We know we share a commitment to safety with many in our industry and we believe that everyone benefits from greater information sharing.