Veolia’s Waste Disposal Skills Case Study

Veolia's commitment to training in waste management

03 May 2012

Veolia Environmental Services is empowering its staff with a new set of City & Guilds-accredited vocational qualifications.

Veolia Environmental Services gave one of its earliest demonstrations of recycling in 1867 when it won a contract with the municipality of Nantes in France to clear the streets of waste by converting it into manure.

These days, the company uses more sophisticated methods, and it deals with the refuse of 70 million people worldwide.


Safety qualified

To provide training for many of the company’s 12,000 employees working in waste removal, the company set up Campus Veolia UK in 1999. To improve this training, Veolia UK now works with City & Guilds to offer an accredited qualification in Waste Management.

Through this qualification, Veolia has ensured that its staff maintain a basic level of health and safety competence, while providing them with optional units such as vehicle operation or protection of the environment.


Why training is necessary

Driving down London’s Lisson Grove on a drizzly July morning in a Westminster City Council Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV), it becomes clear why the waste-management qualification is such a good idea. Refuse collection team members David Harris and driver Michael Griffiths have tales of broken glass in bags, hypodermic needles in mattresses, and distracted pedestrians wandering in front of the RCVs.

Despite his three-man team having 50 years’ experience between them, Leading Hand Pat Guihen says the qualification is a good way of preventing accidents. ‘When you do something like this for 30 years, you begin to do it without thinking,’ he says.

‘When the City & Guilds qualifications came in, they highlighted how we looked at things, which is important these days, especially with the priority attached to health and safety that didn’t exist when I started out.’


Fewer accidents

Since starting the waste management qualifications, Veolia has had 110 fewer lost-time injury incidents, resulting in 25,000 hours less absence in 2009 alone. This saved Veolia £1.5 million.

For the past five years, Veolia has held an annual ceremony for employees who have achieved an academic or vocational qualification. Last year, over 2000 staff gained accredited certificates and the company’s CEO flew over from France to shake the hand of every employee who attended the awards ceremony.


Pat Guihen, Leading Hand, 50

Pat Guihen is carving out a new image for the 21st-century bin man. ‘No bacon butties in this cab,’ he says, snacking on carrot and beetroot from his sandwich box. Pat’s day starts at 4am, when he cycles the 10 miles from Croydon to Westminster.

During the three decades that Pat’s been doing refuse collection, he has seen a big change. ‘Everyone’s looking to make a claim, so corporate responsibility and duty of care is a big thing now. And the lorry I work on now has computers, a rear-view camera and will have a tracking system in three weeks’ time.’


Michael Griffiths, RCV driver, 62

Michael relishes the camaraderie of the rounds. ‘The lads on the collection round are brilliant. With some crews, you see them when they’re out, and it looks like they just can’t wait to get finished, but with this group you’re always having a laugh.

If it’s raining, we’ll have a laugh and still go home grinning. The only bad part of the job is some of the stuff you have to chuck away. I mean, I could really do without curdled milk in the rubbish!’


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