Best Practices for Required Regulatory Training

Posted by Mark Roman on August 13, 2019

Of all the ways a facility can get in trouble, including not having required permits or failing to follow certain regulations in your manufacturing process, one of the most common we see as environmental consultants might be a surprise.

It’s a failure to fulfill required training of your team mandated by local, state, and federal regulators.

First, let’s talk about the “bureaucracy” of training. This goes back to one of the Core Four Requirements: Documentation.

You can conduct all the training you want, but if you didn’t fill out the paperwork correctly, so to speak, it counts for nothing. When a regulator pops in for a surprise visit you must have the right records showing…

  • What training was given.
  • Who received the training (and whether they completed it).
  • Who gave the training.
  • When the training was conducted.
  • The certification that was given (and not all those off-the-shelf training programs you can buy offer that official stamp of approval).

Those are the basics. But that’s not the only place where I find many sites fall short.

Of those facilities that do conduct regulatory required training, many of them go about it the wrong way, rendering that training ineffectual at best, creating resentment and active resistance among your employees at worst.

The Right “Psychological” Approach to Training

Quality training of your team in best practices, emergency response, preventative safety procedures or whatever it happens to be should, above all, promote awareness. Your training must also be accepted by those being trained for it to be effective. You want to get buy-in from your employees and make them enthusiastic (well, as much as possible) to follow the prescribed rules and procedures.

That’s how you’ll improve your operations and safety, which is the goal of the training, after all.

Unfortunately, too many facilities make training about as appealing as a calculus exam combined with a high school physical fitness test. They try to force feed employees the training, telling them it’s what they must do, instead of making it something they want to do. When you take that approach, it’s like talking to a wall.

Good training, above all, promotes awareness, educates, and covers not just the why and how to do something, but also the how not to do that something. Otherwise, people will always find an easier way to do something than the “how” you told them.

Who Should Do the Training

As I mentioned before, off-the-shelf training programs aren’t much good as they don’t always include required certifications and sometimes do not provide “hands-on” demonstrations. The quality also tends to be poor.

You might think that bringing in a highly experienced environmental consultant such as me and my team is the best option. I’ll admit, we’re asked to do training programs all the time, and we are very qualified in most areas of training.

But I will tell you that we actively discourage potential clients from hiring us to do training.

Why would I turn down paying work?

It’s my philosophy that the best trainers are those that are already out there doing the job. Who knows the job better than your employees themselves? We’d just be the substitute teachers.

When you have employees training others at your facility, it’s more accepted. They can say, “Hey, I know this guy. I trust him.” And let’s not forget the power of peer pressure.

When you go in-house, it’s important that your trainer be someone who is respected and knows the job – and can convey it to the students.

Of course, don’t forget to document everything.

One last thing that many facilities forget: training isn’t just a one-time thing.

Make sure you cover all necessary training (including new requirements that may come out), make it part of on-boarding for new employees, and conduct refresher training as required or as needed to make sure everybody stays up to speed.

Next Steps

Not sure what regulatory required training your employees need? Give me, Mark Roman, a call at 609-208-1885 or send me an email at markroman@envisionenvironmental.com, and we can discuss the issue.

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