Jacqueline O’Donovan talks to Utility Fleet magazine about her company’s high standards when it comes to fleet and driver safety and why it is important to champion industry initiatives and drive forward best practice to continually improve operations...
Jacqueline O’Donovan is managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal and has run the family-owned business since 1984. She is well-known for her fierce commitment to safety and training. She has helped to develop national occupational standards for the waste industry with Skills for Logistics and encourages all her staff to upskill. As a Gold member of Transport for London’s (TfL) Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) through Jacqueline’s leadership, the company works closely with Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLOCS), the Metropolitan Police’s Exchanging Places scheme and the Cycle Taskforce to raise awareness of the dangers of accidents between trucks and other vulnerable road users.
Pioneering sustainability, Jacqueline is also recognised as one of the industry’s environmental champions and the driving force behind the numerous awards the company has received. O’Donovan recycles an average of 99% of all waste collected from its clients each month, representing its commitment to a sustainable construction industry. Her determination to innovate in every area of the business is reflected in its 120% sales increase over the last four years.
Jacqueline has also won acclaim for her efforts to increase the number of women and young people
working in the waste and construction industry
What are the biggest challenges you face as a fleet operator?
Our company’s vision is to be the leading independent waste operation, improving the image of the waste industry and championing initiatives for other companies to follow.
Running a safe, green and efficient operation is of utmost importance and we are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to ensure we operate above and beyond the industry standard, so that we lead by example. This is a shared vision supported by our owners, managers and employees alike.
Proving it’s not just the preserve of high profile, large organisations we have implemented a wide-ranging programme of initiatives to improve operating efficiency, reduce occupational road risk and cut our carbon footprint. These ongoing initiatives demonstrate our management team’s top-down commitment to working as sustainably and safely as possible.
How much does technology affect your fleet operation, and what initiatives have you rolled out recently utilising technology?
In 2014 we invested £80,000 in a bespoke operational management system which has been fitted to all 85 vehicles in our fleet. The system provides real-time feedback to drivers and enables our managers to pinpoint problems and driver training requirements in terms of safety. The resulting data identifies trends and enables us to train our drivers on safer driving techniques.
We have seen a number of benefits in terms of driver training requirements and a clear reduction in the number of recorded events. Data from the last 12 months has resulted in safer and smarter driving, with our insurance claims frequency dropping by 60%.
The system’s real-time driver monitoring has also recorded a significant reduction in the number of events (including sudden braking) by 2000 over the course of 10 months, which equates to a 25% reduction.
As well as monitoring driver behaviour we also use the system to evaluate individual training needs in order to help with driving style, speed, braking, cornering and idling
This comprehensive approach to ensuring O’Donovan drivers are working to the highest standards has helped us to retain our FORS Gold standard in 2015 for the fourth consecutive year and in 2014, to become of the first Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) Champions.
This industry standard ensures we operate to best practice and demonstrates our commitment to fleet safety and staff well-being.
How do you make decisions about investing in new vehicles?
O’Donovan is at the very forefront of piloting, testing and embracing emerging road safety standards and as we operate in an industry that relies largely on the increased use of vehicles for continued business growth, becoming proactively involved with industry-related programmes, initiatives and standards at the earliest opportunity is key.
We are able to use our status as an independent company and it is this that when combined with our ability to make swift financial decisions, means we can influence the vehicle manufacturers. Our close working relationships with manufacturers has led to the development of innovative safety features.
Only last month we purchased new vehicles for our fleet which are an industry first. The ground-breaking Mercedes Benz Econic 4×2 skip loader 1830L is the first vehicle of its kind to be commercially bought and put to work in the United Kingdom.
This and other purchases came about following vehicle trials which we undertook in February 2015. As part of the CLOCS initiative, we unveiled three new vehicles for our fleet with the following new features:
• Lowered driving position
• Glazed nearside lower doors
• Nearside monitor to project the view of blind spots
• Revised suspension to lower the cab
• Unique low-profile side guards
Trialling such vehicles and our direct involvement with the manufacturers means we are able to not only influence future vehicle design, but also enables us to make informed decisions on our fleet.
You are one of the flagship organisations with a FORS Gold accreditation, why was it important for you to achieve this?
To be able to demonstrate our ongoing endeavours for excellence, we have been actively involved in the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) since its launch in 2010. The standard, established by TfL, means we undergo annual audits to show improvements in lawfulness, safety, efficiency and environmental protection.
Last year we retained our Gold accreditation for the fourth year running, quite an achievement as one of the only few independent companies to hold the prestigious Gold standard. In fact Gold is held by only one per cent of those registered for FORS.
How can FORS benchmarking help other organisations?
In order to attain FORS accreditation, companies must benchmark and evaluate multiple aspects
of their business to compare against industry averages. Being part of FORS has helped us continually improve our operations and investment in our fleet, as the information and support we receive is invaluable. The FORS standard is a true demonstration of a company’s commitment to best practice in safety, fuel efficiency, emissions and improved operations.
You are also a CLOCS Champion – explain how CLOCS has developed and why it is so important?
Between 2008 and 2013 55% of cyclist fatalities in London involved an HGV and a disproportionate number of these collisions involved construction vehicles. With construction schemes at a record high and unprecedented population levels, there is a real focus on construction logistics and waste operations to improve the safety of the most vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
In 2012 Transport for London (TfL) commissioned a review of the construction sector’s logistic operations to better understand the causes of the collisions. Following this review the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) report was published, which made a number of findings and recommendations. In response to the report the CLOCS programme was developed, in collaboration with senior industry representatives including our Managing Director Jacqueline O’Donovan. A collaborative commitment was made to tackle the issues faced through three key workstreams:
• Improving vehicle safety through increased
• Addressing the imbalance between
workplace and work related road safety
• Establishing a common national standard for managing work related road risk
We have been at the forefront of the CLOCS initiative providing expertise, guidance, real world scenarios and more importantly, representation of the small to medium independent waste operator.
O’Donovan has been a ‘CLOCS Champion’ since early 2014 and in fact were one of the very first companies to begin to implement the standard. As a Champion we are supremely confident that our fleet is legally compliant and safe, but also that customers know that we go above and beyond any baseline requirements as a contractor. It has also meant that we worked in collaboration with other Champions in the development of CLOCS, which has seen significant progress since its launch and it’s likely that the standard will eventually be set for all operators, nationwide. We are extremely proud to be involved with CLOCS, particularly as a small family-run business we have pitched ourselves against some of the largest names in the UK – quite an achievement we think!
How do you think that utility companies and contractors can attract more people to the industry and fill the ‘skills shortage’?
The term ‘skills shortage’ is one that we’re unfortunately used to hearing a lot and it’s not limited to one specific industry or sector. There is a lack of demand around driving as a career.
In the utility sector, it is even more challenging as often unsociable hours and working in all weathers can be unappealing to potential candidates. Therefore, it is imperative that businesses come up with a package that will encourage workers into the utility sector, including additional financial benefits. They also need to design an educational framework that can be delivered to schools and colleges demonstrating the benefits and the need for skilled workers in their sector. As the majority of utility work is on site each and every day, I think it is paramount that a way is devised to include workers so they feel part of the team and ultimately (and hopefully) the success.
What are the more rewarding aspects of your role?
The most rewarding part for me is sharing knowledge with my team and being involved in their professional growth. We celebrate all our achievements as a team and whilst we all work hard and are eager to hit goals, there is always a great sense of fun and comradery.
And what are the most frustrating?
Every industry has its challenges and frustrations and ours is no different. I feel there can sometimes be a lack of engagement in implementing new improvements and safety initiatives from the sector as a whole which can be slow to embrace change.