Culture Change Through Leadership – Shanks

Shanks UK directors taking part in safety

leadership training

Shanks Group plc is a multinational waste management company with operations in Belgium, Northern France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The group’s health and safety performance has improved steadily in the past, but slowly.

Backed by a need to increase the pace of improvement and sponsored by the group’s main board Shanks introduced a safety leadership scheme in June 2011. The main components of this scheme include mandatory director site safety visits and employee engagement, health and safety training for all directors and a series of key safety essentials applied evenly across the group. Safety leadership visits to sites by directors are tracked and reported on as key director performance indicator, linked to their remuneration.

More than 100 director safety leadership visits took place in the first year of the scheme and feedback from employees has been positive. The scheme isn’t the sole factor responsible for Shanks’ improved performance; however it is the flagship for an improved emphasis on safety across the group.

In the ten years prior to the introduction of the safety leadership scheme Shanks UK’s RIDDOR (>3 day) accident rate had reduced by 32%. Within the first year of the scheme this improved to a 42% reduction in accidents. This enhanced performance is a direct result of a shift in the company’s safety culture, driven by strong, visible leadership at the top of the organisation, coupled with an emphasis on employee engagement.

Contact: Geoff Smallwood