MTA 2019 - 0012

Andrew Morley, group sales director (second right) of sponsor Prohire, with O’Donovan Waste Disposal CEO Michael O’Donovan (centre) and Richard Clarke, commercial director (second left)

Tackling London’s congested streets every day might seem daunting, but for O’Donovan Waste Disposal the challenge has been transformative.

Urban Delivery Operator of the Year was a new category in the Motor Transport Awards 2019, so it was always going to take something special to win the prize. That it went to London-based waste and recycling haulier O’Donovan Waste Disposal says plenty about the company’s commitment to doing the right thing.

The business – led by MD Jacqueline O’Donovan – has a solid history of working with officials on initiatives to improve the safety of HGV movements in the capital, and mitigate the environmental impact of its fleet.

With a turnover of £21m per year, the business runs six depots, a fleet of 95 HGVs and employs a 165-strong workforce.

It prioritises a range of initiatives focusing on health and safety, fleet innovation, training and environmental best practice, all led by a committed and passionate family management team.

And it strives to be at the forefront of the latest fleet technology too, helping to shape emerging policy by representing the views of SMEs in the haulage industry.

“Because we are seen as innovators within the industry, it is important for us that we lead the way and encourage others to follow suit,” O’Donovan says.

O’Donovan played a significant role in working with the CLOCS team and vehicle manufacturers to help raise awareness of the need for more direct vision in HGV cabs and encourage new designs.

To lead on this issue commercially, the business was the first to introduce Mercedes-Benz Econic skiploaders to its fleet and now boasts the largest direct-vision low-entry fleet for an independent waste haulier in London.

O'Donovan Waste Disposal Urban Delivery

O'Donovan Waste Disposal has helped to raise awareness about direct vision in HGV cabs and uses Mercedes-Benz Econic skiploaders on its fleet

It also works closely with its local community, partnering with the Metropolitan and City Police to carry out regular Exchanging Places sessions.

These sessions enable cyclists and pedestrians to experience an HGV from the driver’s cab and gain a better understanding of the view drivers have.

The business also takes its own Exchanging Places into schools in its community to educate children about the danger zones around HGVs. During Road Safety week in 2018, the business was able to engage with more than 500 local children about road safety.

Leading the way

O’Donovan is proud of the fact that it was not only the first independent waste company to have achieved Fors Gold status, but that it has maintained the rating for eight years in a row.

It has also gone above and beyond the required safety standards on its fleet by fitting equipment such as nearside blind spot side sensors, reversing cameras, nearside CCTV, forward-facing cameras, audible left turn alarms, enhanced side impact bars and Fresnel lenses.

In May 2018, the company also became the first dedicated waste firm to receive ISO39001 certification from BSI, which sets out the requirements for a Road Safety Management System with the aim of reducing the impact of outcomes from road traffic accidents.

As part of its Fors Gold status, the company has taken part in performance management benchmarking and reduced its carbon footprint by 19.5%, based on fuel usage and distances travelled.

The firm’s operational management system monitors driver behaviour in real time and enables transport managers to communicate with the entire fleet immediately via digital two-way radio.

Allocation of jobs is managed as traffic updates come in and HGVs follow routes with the least congestion – and those that are safer for all road users, which means they avoid cycle hotspots and schools at peak times.

Driving style is monitored through the management system and any driving behaviour such as harsh braking and cornering, as well as excessive idling, are identified so further training and mentoring can be given, allowing the driver to improve their skills and habits.

Improved driver behaviour, backed up with certified courses such as Transport for London’s LoCITY Driving and Driver CPC modules, has improved safety and fuel efficiency while lowering carbon emissions.

As a result, the firm has seen its insurance premiums drop by 20% and accident rates reduced by 22%. Meanwhile, fuel efficiency has increased by 26% and carbon emissions have been slashed by 19.5% per kilometre travelled. To further reduce emissions and help improve air quality in the capital, the firm has also introduced all-electric Citroën vans to the fleet, replacing diesel counterparts, along with installing the required in-depot charging points.

It is also looking at ways to introduce alternative fuels to its HGV fleet and considering which options would be a good fit. “We are keen to get on to alternative fuels and are exploring many avenues in respect of this, as the company continues to reduce its environmental impact at every opportunity,” says O’Donovan.

Sharing knowledge

As well as its dedicated driver coaching, O’Donovan also runs a series of training courses for all aspects of the business, which are offered in multiple languages to accommodate the firm’s multi-national workforce.

Its headquarters is a JAUPT-approved and British Safety Council-approved training centre, enabling it to share its best practice with other waste companies.

O'Donovan Urban Delivery Preferred

O'Donovan's fleet management approach has led to its insurance premiums dropping by 20% and accident rates falling by 22%

O’Donovan has designed its own Driver CPC syllabus called Waste Essentials, as well as recently introducing a new security and counter-terrorism course to better focus a driver’s attention on personal and vehicle security. It raises awareness of the theft of loads and vehicles, but also the dangers of an HGV being used as a weapon if stolen or hijacked.

A number of staff are also qualified in the RHA’s in-cab training, which gives them the skills to carry out in-house driving assessments and support and mentor staff.

The company believes its strong emphasis on training is key to helping its employees handle the challenges that come with operating in busy, built-up London streets.

“Our biggest challenge is the ever-increasing congestion that comes with being a London-centric operator and sharing the roads with so many road users in all forms,” says O’Donovan.

“What helps us manage and overcome these challenges is our commitment to training and having our team as knowledgeable as possible to deal with any situation.”

In particular, she adds, the firm’s wellbeing programme, Dynamo, is crucial to helping employees manage their reactions to challenging circumstances when out on the job, including stress and anxiety.


Anything for a quiet life

Reducing noise pollution also plays a vital part of O’Donovan’s environmental policy. The company recognised one of the biggest noise impacts was the metal-on-metal clanking that skip chains can make.

So the firm’s environment and transport teams carried out noise-level tests using decibel meters on different models of lorries and various sizes of skips. They then worked to develop padded covers to minimise the sound. The innovation consists of a sleeve made from a recyclable heavy-duty canvas material with Velcro edging that can be secured around the chains.

Before and after tests from varying distances resulted in a decibel reduction of more than 23% once the covers were fitted. MD O’Donovan also works closely with TfL on its Quiet Deliveries working group to see if innovation from other industries can be adopted or adapted for its fleet.