Act!On – A Multi-faceted Health and Safety Initiative – Viridor

Viridor is one of the leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies in the UK working with more than 90 local authorities and thousands of private customers.

To help reduce accident incidence rates, Viridor developed Act!On, a multi-faceted health and safety initiative focussing on competence and understanding the risks. The Act!On initiative is targeted at staff at all levels and is underpinned by a staff induction video released in March 2011. As part of the induction, staff are required to obtain a 100% pass rate to a 20 question health and safety test. In order to reflect Viridor’s diverse workforce and to maximise reach, the video and test are available in eight languages.

All Viridor employees were required to watch the video and successfully complete the test over a four month period.

As a way to encourage active engagement, the company’s staff and sites were used in the filming, including Viridor’s MD who gives a brief introduction to set out the company’s core health, safety and environmental values.

To reinforce the training initiative and ensure consistency, the key safety messages were cascaded through the business via line management meetings, ‘toolbox talks’ and targeted training across the business.

In May 2011 a monthly newsletter was introduced which is distributed electronically via email, and also as hard copies displayed on site notice boards. The topical newsletter includes an ‘in Court’ section which gives real-life examples of accidents within the industry and beyond. The aim of the newsletter is to encourage discussion and awareness of H&S issues.

Act!On was fully backed by Viridor’s Board of Directors and senior managers throughout the business. The involvement of senior management from the outset gave the initiative the profile and priority it warrants. All company Directors watched the video, had to pass the test and a group photo and statement from the MD was communicated internally to demonstrate the importance and commitment required of all employees.

The training package was complemented by a new Health & Safety Excellence Award Scheme where employees were encouraged to get involved and submit ideas to improve health and safety in the workplace and gain recognition for their efforts. Awards of £200 were made quarterly for the best idea from each of the four regions and a one-off prize of £500 was given to the best idea of the year.

In terms of results:

  • formal training increased by 85% from 2,588 training days in 2010 to 4,788 in 2011. Approximately 75% of all training delivered was health and safety;
  • from March 2011 to June 2012 Viridor recorded no serious accidents with a measurable increased implementation of risk control standards across the business. The IR fell 42% in the calendar year 2011 and 53.9% by 31 March 2012;
  • in October 2011, a survey of 20% of employees which covered health and safety, ethics and communications placed Viridor well in the “calculative” range of the Parker and Hudson model of organisational safety culture. The consultants carrying out the survey commented that such consistency of H&S standards across a business was rare.

Contact: Ian Powell