Mission to Zero
By Jeff Martin, vice president of safety services
The road ahead. You may have seen a story recently in WM Monday about the company’s
annual safety performance, and how many of you did an outstanding job contributing to
what was one of our best years. While there are many things
I could highlight, some of the statistics I’m most proud of are that we experienced:
- No driver fatalities due to a safety failure, which is the first year on record to
achieve such an important milestone
- The best safety performance in history for our recycling facilities
- A successful rollout of DriveCam that significantly reduced our auto/bodily
injury incidents, costs, seat belt violations, cell phone use and more
Think about this performance for a minute. Now, think about how many injuries were
avoided, how many accidents didn’t occur and how many lives were saved. The ultimate
goal of safety is for every one of our employees to go home in the same condition as he
or she came to work, and I’m very proud about the strides we made toward that objective.
Sadly, though, last year not every employee returned home. We still experienced safety
failures. We still saw too many injuries that were completely avoidable. And we still have
work to do to reach our ultimate goal of Mission to Zero (zero tolerance for unsafe, actions,
behaviors or conditions ). For 2014, I want us to remain strongly focused on that goal — I
even made it the name of my column. We believe that by doing so we will achieve zero
employee fatalities and prevent injuries at our sites.
This year, to help keep our employees focused on Mission to Zero, my team and I are going
to be doing a number of things. One will be distributing our Science Series to each of our sites.
In 2014, we will continue to deliver our Driver Science Series to the frontline each month.
In addition, we’ll be increasing the frequency of these training sessions to monthly for our
disposal sites and quarterly for our maintenance shops.
Another item is working with each of our Areas — down to the sites that need the most help —
on developing injury reduction plans. Part of this will involve recertifying our managers on the
rules of safe operating practices, while another will be engaging with the frontline to break old
habits that may go against our Life Critical Rules.
Lastly, to end this month’s column, I want to be clear on one thing – safety is everyone’s
responsibility. All of the programs and training sessions and safety huddles don’t mean a lot if
one person loses focus, or decides to do things his or her own way, or otherwise chooses to
ignore safe operating practices. One person’s lapse in judgment can lead to serious injuries
or even fatalities.
So, for 2014, I challenge each one of you to really own safety, and not just for yourself but for
your site or department. Imagine how many lives we could save, or injuries we could prevent,
by simply being more vigilant together. What would it mean for an employee or his or her
Now, let’s stop imagining and make it happen!