Work safety tops the list of core cultural values at Urban Impact Recycling Ltd. In the competitive waste and recycling sector, Urban Impact sets itself apart through its 13 core values, the primary one being “safety is our priority, always.”
When the family-owned business was founded in 1989, it was the Lower Mainland’s first multi-material recycling company. It began with one truck and has grown to 35 that include rear load trucks, front loaders, tractors, roll-off trucks, and onsite shred trucks serving more than 6,500 customer locations from Whistler to Chilliwack.
Urban Impact has three operating divisions—Trucking, Plant, and Maintenance—that include 36 drivers and six maintenance workers, many of whom have been with the company for many years. The staff enjoys a family environment; CEO Nicole Stefenelli says, “ we work hard to keep our family of drivers working safely and efficiently.” She adds that the company’s cultural values unify the teams, who work together to provide outstanding customer service.
Safety Coordinator Elaine Leong, who joined Urban Impact in 2021, remarks the Urban Impact originally felt the safety value was enough as it was “simple, direct and clear,” and boosted the message to be more compelling. Over time, they added a second, more poignant, message that is displayed on all training material, signage, and documentation: “Work Safely. Make it home tonight. Family and friends depend on it.”
One of the core principles of the company’s safety program is that safety must be a lived value from the ground up. Other cultural values support the primary mandate, including:
• Genuinely care about people we work with. We are a flexible and fair employer.
• Be approachable. Staff have full access to our leadership team.
• Support staff’s health and wellness.
Safety is communicated via bulletin boards that promote safety themes, but mainly through toolbox talks, known as the Safety Sandwich; the “bread” creates the form of the sandwich—the top slice is policy, training, and procedures, and the bottom is commitment, day-to-day feedback, and learning. In the middle are safety and safety meetings. The Safety Sandwich is served up using video, Power Point, and in-person discussion.
Following the lead of CEO Nicole Stefenelli, Urban Impact Recycling Ltd. embraces technology to communicate effectively, which includes using apps to send out bulletins about safety concerns such as using equipment to move heavy loads, using safe techniques for pushing and pulling bins, and using three-point contact when entering and exiting a truck.
Drivers have access to an app for reporting issues on the road, including submitting photos. The app was useful when a driver was injured at a client’s site where bricks had been used to mark the bays instead of painted lines. The driver, using the proper
three-point contact, stepped down onto the bricks and turned his ankle. He was able to report the incident, complete with pictures, right away.
One way Urban Impact incentivizes safety is through the Driver of the Month award, which recognizes safety and customer service. It’s an important tool to recognize team members’ outstanding commitment to safe operations. Criteria for the award include excellent attendance; no damage, accidents, tickets; no disciplinary issues; receiving compliments rather than complaints; completing paperwork properly; keeping the truck cab clean and being well turned-out in the company uniform; and showing improved productivity or meeting targets.
The pandemic brought additional safety considerations, which Urban Impact Recycling Ltd., as an essential service, met by exceeding requirements with their COVID 19 plan. The priority was to keep teams safe on their own and customers’ sites. Stefenelli says, “to continue to deliver Toolboxes weekly with meaning and purpose, we moved outside but also used several apps to deliver content for the safety topics.”
Recognizing that vaccinations are a personal choice, Urban Impact offered help to team members who wanted to get themselves and their families vaccinated. They addressed physical distancing requirements by making physical changes that will remain after the pandemic—additional lunch areas and restrooms—and establishing separate entrances and having administrative and customer service teams work from home.
The Trucking division recently celebrated 333 days with no lost-time incidents, an internal record and major accomplishment. They celebrate each 100 such days with a shared meal or a commemorative hat or shirt. The celebration and the fun that goes with it are shared with the other teams. The Plant division recently celebrated their first 100 days with no lost-time incidents.
The company is not yet COR Certified but they are working toward it and intend to attain it in 2022. Urban Impact keeps a close eye on a variety of key safety performance indicators, which are communicated to the managers and supervisor each month for monitoring and communicating results. They continuously build on their safety program as they strive to reach their goal of zero incidents and zero accidents.