Creating a safer workplace
Challenge

One of the largest solid waste management companies in the U.S., Republic Services needed to implement a nationwide safety incentive program for over 20,000 safety-sensitive employees to promote safe work practices by improving safe driving habits, reinforcing safety training, and enhancing the overall safety culture. Corporate objectives also included reducing the company’s liability caused by accidents, reducing workers’ compensation costs, and lowering their OSHA incident rate.

Republic Services provides nonhazardous solid waste collection services for commercial, industrial, municipal, and residential customers through 348 hauling companies in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

They also serve millions of residential customers under terms of contracts with more than 2,800 municipalities for waste collection and recycling services. The company's various operating units include 204 transfer stations, 193 solid waste landfills, and 76 recycling facilities, each with internal management staff. The company has two tiers of safety-sensitive employees with unique award qualification criteria and award values. Two additional challenges were that some of the safety-sensitive employees were English-speaking while others were Spanish-speaking, and not all program participants had web access.

Solution

Republic Services created and launched a bilingual online/off-line plateau level program titled “The Dedicated to Safety (DTS) Rewards Program.” This program enables participants to accumulate and combine safety vouchers earned throughout the life of the program, enabling them to save the points they earn and redeem for higher-level awards. The customized award website, catalog, voucher, and poster all include Republic Services’ corporate colors, logos, and imagery, together with the imagery of the custom-branded DTS Program. The program was designed to seamlessly handle award orders from both online and off-line participants. The rotating banner on the award website was used to communicate and highlight division success throughout the program. The redemption vehicles for the program were printed safety vouchers in 10, 25, and 30 point denominations, each with unique award codes.

To facilitate local deployment and participation by General Managers, All Star produced and distributed program announcement launch kits to each division. Each kit contained General Manager welcome letters, sample voucher s, par t icipant announcement letters, posters, voucher order forms, catalogs, and a training video. To facilitate promotion to the safety-sensitive employees, General Managers were instructed to distribute the materials and promote the program during scheduled safety meetings. We worked closely with Republic Services’ safety team to design the program and then All Star handled every aspect of this safety program including concept, design, print production, web hosting, ward sourcing, fulfillment, and reporting. As an additional recognition component, all award shipments were accompanied by a card insert designed to thank the award recipient for working safe and to reinforce the Dedicated to Safety Rewards Program initiatives. Surveys and quizzes that reinforce safety training are also used and provide bonus point opportunities for workers.

Results

Since the program’s inception in January 2005, the Republic Services Dedicated to Safety (DTS) Rewards Program has successfully raised safety awareness, enhanced overall workplace safety, and improved communications. The program’s success is evident by the significant reduction in claims, and safety related costs. 2004 trends were typical for Republic Services in terms of claims and therefore were used as the benchmark at the start of the DTS Rewards Program. The results below (based on historical Allied Waste information) speak for themselves.

  • 2005: Claims reduced 12.3% as compared to 2004
  • 2006: Claims reduced 12.7% as compared to 2005
  • 2007: Claims reduced 14.1% as compared to 2006
  • 2008: Claims reduced 21.0% as compared to 2007
  • 2009: Claims reduced 33.1% as compared to 2008
  • 2010: Claims reduced 22.7% as compared to 2009
  • 2011: Claims reduced 10.3% as compared to 2010

The total cumulative claims reduction (relative to the base line year of 2004) for the seven year period ending in December of 2011 is in the tens of thousands. This represents total claims reductions of well more than 50% since the program’s inception in 2005! The company has had many safety-improving, record-setting months over the past seven years. Making these results even more remarkable is the fact that in late December 2008, Republic Services and Allied Waste merged workforces. Typically companies experience an increase in safety challenges following a merging of personnel. However, in 2009, one year after the merging of the two workforces, Republic Services realized its greatest claim reduction yet.

Another impressive aspect of this success is that these results were reached without full employee enrollment. It was not until 2010 that all of the eligible safety-sensitive employees were enrolled in the DTS Rewards Program. Proof that starting a Safety Rewards program even on a smaller scale, can have an immediate positive effect on improving safety.

In a litigious society with increased environmental issues, a growing population, and baseline inflation, many industry experts estimate that companies with safety-sensitive workers that operate in high-risk environments, will experience annual safety-related cost increases in the 7-10% range. Despite this fact, Republic Services has managed to not only stave off spending increases but has also been able to realize a measurable reduction in spending for the past 7 years with the DTS Rewards Program.

The incredible success of this recognition and rewards program has led to its indefinite continuation. In recent years, enhanced options and communication tools including; slogan contests, kids coloring contests and videos, and custom logo safety kits, have been added to drive greater employee engagement. Looking forward, the DTS Rewards Program will now go further towards addressing not just workplace safety but also safety in the home for the families of their employees.