Changing behaviours to reduce risk - loading RCVs smarter

Sam Boshier Sep 15, 2023 8:49:30 AM
Representatives from SiteZone and FCC at the FCC Wychavon depot where the pilot programme of RCV Smart Loader has been running.

As a trusted safety partner to the waste and recycling sector, SiteZone is always ready to support customers with their safety challenges.


So, when FCC Environment, a ten-year partner of SiteZone Safety, came to us with a concept to provide an additional level of safety for bin lifts when used in automatic mode on Refuse Collections Vehicles (RCV), we responded.


Paul Stokes, Head of SHEQ at FCC Environment , said:

“Whilst we have safe working procedures in place, for the operation of bin lifts, we wanted to explore what more we could do to reduce the risks associated with using RCV bin lifts in automatic mode. We thought of a concept to reduce the risk, improve behaviour by keeping loaders out of the danger zone and with no compromise on round time.  That’s when we went to SiteZone, a company we can rely on, and asked for help.”

Responding quickly to a concern that had also been raised by WISH (Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum) and the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), SiteZone and FCC Environment worked together to address the issue.


Nigel Adams, Technical Director at SiteZone Safety, who developed the product adds,

“We were able to take our core product, proximity warning systems, and develop this to be suitable for RCVs. We create a zone around the bin lift and all operators wear a tag. When they’re loading the bin, if they lean in or stay in the zone the lift will not complete reducing potential risk to the operator.”

FCC Environment had two critical success factors – reduction of risk and no impact on completion of collection rounds. Both of which have been achieved. Data from the live collection rounds has shown us a 90-98% improvement in behaviours (from pre-intervention rates), proving that operators have adjusted the way they load to be safer. There was also minimal impact on collection rounds – they completed on time.


Gary Escott, Managing Director at SiteZone, talks about the results,

We’ve been excited by the results of the trials and pilot programmes. Operators have taken to the new system well and we’ve even seen them determined to get zero incursions in their rounds. With new safety products, you can often get push back from the people using them, but as this product doesn’t hinder what they do, and the teams can see the benefits in safety, it’s been adopted quicker than we could have anticipated.”

Operatives out on the round say,

"they don’t even notice the system, but it does make them feel safer."

Paul Stokes added,

“There has been no loss in time on collection rounds, and we now have a safer operation that reduces the risk to our employees. By increasing our control levels in the hierarchy of control we have reduced the risk level. Plus, the proven change in behaviours is fantastic. We know that training can only go so far, but by having a way to enforce correct behaviours throughout the round we can ensure that correct loading methods are used consistently.”

The data collected from the collection rounds can help you to understand where there may be an increased risk. For example, you can see which roads create the most incursions into the bin danger zone, which times of day or days of the week. When analysed in context of the types of round and bins used on that round (waste, recycling, etc) it can help you plan your collections effectively.


FCC has committed to rolling out the SiteZone RCV Smart Loader onto their existing fleet of Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCVs) on a contract by contract basis, and including it as a part of their specification for new RCV orders / tenders.

Steve Longdon, CEO of FCC Environment, says of FCC's commitment:

"The safety of our employees has and will always remain a priority for FCC Environment. We're pleased to be the first commercial organisation to fully commit to rollout the SiteZone RCV Smart Loader onto our fleet of RCVs. The trials have proven the behavioural change that the system enforces, and this is something we can extend to colleagues on all of our collection rounds."

The product was exclusively launched at RWM Expo on 13th September 2023. Find out more here.