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Making work safer

The health, safety, wellbeing and engagement of our people is a top priority at Renewi, and a responsibility we take very seriously. Waste management remains a high-risk industry and, while employee attitude is critical to improving safety, leadership is key in defining employee attitude.

Under our safety leadership scheme, all senior leaders are required to carry out at least two dedicated health and safety visits every quarter. This ensures direct engagement between those in leadership roles and our operational employees.

At ATM, there is a strong focus on safety leadership. ATM is one of Europe's largest sites for the treatment of contaminated soil and water, as well as for the disposal of a broad range of hazardous waste such as waste paints and solvents, and this is a market in which safety is of paramount importance.

Site safety visits

Aad van Marrewijk, Managing Director of ATM, has carried out more than 100 of these visits in the past year, making him Renewi's top performer for safety leadership tours.

"I make a habit of going out at least twice a week, to observe, inform, see if there is anything I can do to help and listen to any problems people might have as regards safety," he says. "When people think there are unsafe situations or they think things could be improved, I then use the system we have in place to make sure they are followed up on."

But the visits go beyond the practicalities of health and safety: they are about engaging with employees, listening to them and learning from their experiences. This engagement is what makes safety leadership tours far more powerful than any number of safety weeks, videos, posters or talks, which can sometimes be perceived as a 'top-down' instruction. Leadership is about communicating what is really important to us: making sure all our people go home safely at the end of their working day.

"I have learned from this process that you don't have to tell people about safety," Aad says. "Everyone has a natural drive to be aware of danger and risk. So thinking about safety comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. If they feel they are in an environment where they are listened to and know their safety is taken seriously, then practices improve and people look out not only for themselves, but for their colleagues as well."

Prioritising our people

Throughout all Renewi's divisions, we prioritise our people and want them to know that they have an important role to play within our organisation. The more valued people feel, the more openly they will communicate, not only with our leadership team but also with their colleagues. This creates a culture of open, trusting communication around safety issues.