Tips for Working Safely

Tips for working Safely




If you're like most companies, you can probably think of numerous places to make improvements in your operation. But trying to do too much can be a recipe for failure. So where should you concentrate your efforts? We talked to operations managers at several landfills, transfer stations and material recovery facilities, and they agree focusing on these five areas is the best way to start.

1. Put safety first—every day.

Simply reminding employees to “stay safe” as they head out on the job isn’t enough. If your target is zero incidents or injuries—and it should be—you need to build a culture where every individual buys into that goal. That means giving your people the tools and training to work safely in every situation, as well as the confidence to speak up when something isn’t right. If you don’t have an ongoing safety program in place, now’s the time to get started. Check out the resources available at

2. Let your equipment help you cut costs.  

While there’s no magic bullet for lowering costs, you may find two solutions in your machines themselves. First, make equipment management a priority. Do the recommended preventive maintenance on schedule. Complete repairs before failure. Require operators to perform machine walkarounds before every shift. (These checklists can help.) And listen to operator feedback about machine performance—they know the equipment best.

Second, consider right-sizing your fleet. As waste streams and peak times change, so do equipment needs. Take a look at your machines and ask yourself (and your team) if they meet the demands of your operation today and tomorrow. You may be able to make changes to improve efficiency and lower fuel costs.

3. Invest in your people.

Employees who feel valued are employees who give back to your operation. You’ll reap plenty of ROI when you take the time to teach your people safe job procedures, machine and application best practices, and good maintenance techniques. Consider CPR or first responder training, too—you never know when that might pay off in a life saved on the job.

Cross-training is important as well. Encourage employees to take on different roles and responsibilities. Doing so allows them to grow within your company (rather than leaving for other opportunities) and helps you build a pipeline of qualified employees for the future. 

4. Communicate your plans.

Do you have plans (and back-up plans) in place for your daily operations? Probably. Have you shared them with your employees and asked for input? That’s where things can fall short. Plans only work when your entire team is on board in executing them, and the key to that is communication. So make your plans, then get your people involved in making them better—and make sure each employee has individual goals in place to help you achieve them.

5. Be a good neighbor.

Internal improvements are crucial—and so are external relationships. Being seen as a partner in your community means adhering to all regulations and proactively sharing any plans that may affect nearby businesses or homeowners. Dump days, tours, open houses and school visits are all excellent ways to build goodwill. You might also consider regular meetings with haulers or large customers to talk about what’s going well and what you could do differently. 

Of course, identifying improvement areas is the easy part. Making changes is more challenging—but the rewards you’ll experience in lower costs, higher productivity and better employee morale are worth the effort. Not sure where to begin? We can help. Caterpillar is the only equipment manufacturer to offer machine, application, maintenance and safety consultation and training specifically for the waste industry. Just talk to your Cat® dealer to get started.



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