A Look at NWRA's Initiatives for its New Three-year Safety Plan

A Look at NWRA's Initiatives for its New Three-year Safety Plan

The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) is currently working on creating a new three-year safety plan, which will focus on improving safety performance and reducing onsite injuries, accidents and fatalities.

Last month, the association held a two-day Safety Summit where industry safety experts spoke to attendees about how the waste and recycling industry can amp up its safety efforts. NWRA digested the information shared at the summit and came up with a long-term objective of eliminating industry fatalities and a three-year objective of reducing fatalities across all waste and recycling sectors by 50 percent.

In addition to those two objectives, NWRA has also announced three strategic initiatives to improve safety within the waste and recycling industry:

  1. Remove the collection industry from the top 10 most dangerous occupations list.
  2. Join coalitions and take actions to help reduce distracted driving incidents.
  3. Create and find collaboration opportunities to leverage safety efforts.

“To help remove the collection industry from the top 10 list, we are going to focus on education and sharing best practices, guidelines and lessons learned,” says NWRA President and CEO Sharon H. Kneiss. “We are also working on getting involved in distracted driving initiatives.”

These three initiatives are just the starting point of NWRA’s three-year plan. NWRA also plans to address the issue of developing a strong safety culture and to work with other organizations to develop a set of themes and evergreen topics for Safety Monday, a digital source of weekly safety tips.

“We plan to create a library of best practices on how to develop safety cultures,” says Kneiss. “This library will include examples of companies that have strong safety cultures and how they got there. We will also set up companies with experts who are willing to work with them to develop a strong safety culture.”

NWRA is also planning its second Safety Stand Down called "Water Rest Shade," which will cover heat illness. The association is rolling out a regular Stand Down schedule that will include the same topics next year so that the association can test the results year over year to see if these efforts have an impact on the industry. Following the second Stand Down, NWRA will host its first all-day safety seminar in New York in June.

“Our plan is to have four throughout the year,” says Kneiss. “The first two will be pilots, and then we will make adjustments as needed for the other two. This is a great way for us to bringing the operations and safety people out to give them the tools they need.”

In order to make all of these efforts possible, NWRA is working toward a more systematic and data-driven approach. The association has an in-house statistician, but it may collaborate with others outside of the industry.

“One thing we have learned from the summit is when you think more diversely and bring in a more diverse set of people to think through things, you do get a more rich approach,” says Kneiss. “I believe going forward that we will be reaching out to others beyond this industry. It’s all about analyzing your data, planning what you need to do, bringing people along and then implementing those strategies.”

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