The Safer Driving Campaign shows it IS possible to protect our crews

In 2013 Biffa Municipal Ltd, working in partnership with South Staffordshire Council, introduced camera systems on all RCVs. Subsequent monitoring of footage revealed that despite a robust system in place for crews to report and document near misses/hazards there were inconsistencies in how crews were highlighting issues pertinent to dangerous driving. It soon became apparent that there was limited data regarding the nature of such incidents across the country. The Council and Biffa were aware of the high risk nature of collisions involving crews and vehicles and were committed to implementing measures to minimise these risks as far as practicable.

The Council and Biffa decided to launch jointly the Safer Driving Campaign to raise awareness amongst all stakeholders of the risks associated with dangerous driving whilst implementing robust systems to ensure that those responsible were dealt with accordingly.

Briefing sessions were held and tool box talks (TBTs) issued to highlight to crews the importance of reporting as near misses incidents involving dangerous driving. Training incorporated the use of footage taken from RCVs and monitoring was adapted (to include both physical crew checks and camera footage reviews) and increased (to ensure crew adherence to new guidance). An incentive scheme was also promoted whereby all accurate and appropriate near misses concerning dangerous driving were entered into a prize draw.

The Council led engagement with residents through the dedicated ‘Love Your Bin Man!’ campaign. This built upon high levels of waste management service satisfaction (97%) and sought positive feedback to reinforce how much crews and their work are valued by the public and this resulted in 48 compliments during 2015/16. The campaign was run primarily through the Council newsletter, delivered to all 46,000 properties across the district, and showcased three crew members nominated as part of the ‘Love Your Bin Man!’ campaign. We continue to seek feedback regarding any operational changes which may improve further the safety of the service (e.g. changes to collection times due to temporary road works). Promotion of the campaign was supplemented through regular news features on local radio, including sound bites from drivers and loaders.

The campaign was actively supported by the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services. Furthermore, briefing sessions and presentations were held with the Council’s Health and Safety Steering Group and all Elected Members at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting to highlight the work of the Safer Driving Campaign and share footage taken from RCV cameras over the preceding months. This ensured political buy in and support for the work completed so far.

The intervention of the local MP assisted with raising the campaign’s profile and led to more meaningful engagement with Staffordshire Police. A protocol was developed and a bespoke incident reporting form created to avoid administrative duplication between partners and ensure that incidents are reported as quickly and accurately as possible. When coupled with a dedicated ICT portal to upload relevant camera footage, this has proved to be a very effective reporting system, minimising Police time whilst ensuring accurate information leads to appropriate enforcement action.

In the six months to May 2016, 30 instances of dangerous driving were reported to Staffordshire Police and in this time 20 drivers have either been prosecuted or attended a driver awareness course, modified to incorporate guidance regarding how to drive when near to an RCV. Crew engagement with health and safety matters has improved noticeably and the open nature of the campaign has fostered innovative solutions. One crew member suggested that a camera logo on high visibility clothing and on RCV curtains may highlight to drivers that their actions are being recorded and act as a deterrent to potentially unsafe actions. As a result, all PPE on the South Staffordshire Council contract was changed to incorporate these logos.

We continue to promote footage of dangerous driving taken from RCVs via social media and this information has been shared with prominent media outlets including the LARAC and websites with the aim of raising industry awareness. The article has reached a minimum of 20,000 followers through Twitter alone. The approach taken in South Staffordshire has now been rolled out to a number of Biffa depots and between November 2015 and March 2016, 310 near miss reports were submitted by crews across the municipal division specific to dangerous driving.

Above all, the Safer Driving Campaign is an example of how a number of stakeholders have worked in concert within a relatively short period to identify a high risk problem, engage with all affected parties and implement system changes that have led to real tangible benefits and, critically, reduce the risks associated with dangerous driving through a district wide, multimedia campaign.