A large number of our team members are drivers, heavy equipment operators and sorters—critical jobs that carry inherent risks. For nearly 20 years, we have engaged employees on safety practices through the Mission to Zero (M2Z), where the “Zero” represents zero tolerance for unsafe actions or conditions.
By engaging employees around prevention rather than simply tracking outcomes, we strive to address hazards before they endanger employees. Throughout 2020, M2Z’s theme was a “focus on the fundamentals.” With the addition of ADS operations to many WM areas, and changes witnessed due to the pandemic, we took the year to focus on the execution of existing safety programs and initiatives. Our team also began conducting safety training for all ADS team members as soon as the acquisition was complete.
A Year of Safety Progress
As a result of our continued commitment to programs that improve roadway safety, and a focus on reducing the frequency and severity of employee injuries, 2020 was a successful year in terms of WM’s safety performance. Despite the impacts COVID-19 had across our operations, we saw overall improvement across all four primary metrics that we use to track progress: Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), Days Away/Restricted or Transferred (DART), Vehicle Accident Recordable Rate (VARR) and Hourly Accident Recordable Rate (HARR).
To understand vehicle incident performance across operations of varying sizes, we use VARR, which tracks vehicle-on-vehicle accidents; and HARR, which tracks vehicle accidents including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-property accidents. On both of these metrics, our teams improved significantly in 2020, achieving 14% and 5% year-over-year improvements, respectively. We achieved this level of safety due to an extreme focus on our WM SAFETY defensive driving system as traffic patterns changed, continued coaching on backing-related incidents and reduced roadway traffic early in the year. Having achieved noteworthy performance during a challenging year, the theme that has now permeated throughout WM’s safety organization is “don’t give it back.” We look forward to applying lessons learned over the past year to maintain and improve levels of performance.