Environmental Training: How to Get Your Team Onboard

Paul Farless, Noria Corporation

Most of the facilities we enter as consultants have pretty strict environmental standards that the facility must uphold. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does NOT play around when it comes to industrial plants. Generally, most of these plants are on the edge of towns, though some are in a rural setting. Power generation facilities, for example, are usually located near a river or lake and must abide by very strict rules and regulations set by the EPA. Every facility has to dispose of its manufacturing byproduct, debris, disposables and waste properly or risk being shut down. Proper, thorough environmental training is a large part of ensuring that these rules and regulations are met.

Scheduling

Training in these facilities, no matter the industry, is usually death-by-PowerPoint style training. Pulling the techs out of the field when they have a thousand things going on and making them sit through a two-hour PowerPoint presentation and then pulling one of them out every five minutes to “fight a fire” is probably the worst way to do training. I understand that time is nearly impossible to carve out in today’s industry. Since the pandemic, I have yet to go to a facility that isn’t running as lean as possible: each team member is wearing multiple hats and is busier than they have ever been. I think the first step in getting your team onboard is to schedule the training around major events months in advance. Schedule these trainings carefully and deliberately.

Passive Training and Delivery Method

As for environmental training regarding lubrication, I always think of spill containment and utilizing the correct lubricant type, such as an environmentally acceptable lubricant (EAL). Whenever there is a potential risk of lubricants entering a water source, not utilizing the correct procedures and precautions can lead to a total plant shutdown. So even though it isn’t a PowerPoint or instructed type of training, training through posted bulletins can help achieve the goal of being environmentally safe and friendly. I have mentioned this in a few of the articles I have written for Machinery Lubrication - constant, conspicuous reinforcement.

If I see training posters all around the shop (and the plant in general), I am more likely to incorporate that knowledge into my everyday process. Think of it like flashcards when studying for a test; after a few rounds of flashcards, you start to remember key words and phrases that hint at the answer. The same concept can be applied to processes and procedures. I like to call this “passive training,” whereas a PowerPoint presentation is a direct form of training. With direct training, you sit down and try to absorb as much as you can within a set time frame and hope for the best. Passive training is the slow integration of knowledge into your brain over time. I think of it as the drip method of training, and it can save you and your technicians a lot of time.

Think of a water spigot over a five-gallon bucket and think of the water as time. The water drips into the bucket and takes a very long time to fill it, but since there is no pressure, the water does not splash out of the bucket - no wasted water and no wasted time.

Buy-in or Absorption

Buy-in to training isn’t all about what type of training it is; sometimes it’s just about the delivery method of the training you are presenting. Overall, do we want to just sign off that the training was completed and waste some precious time doing it? Or do we want to actually allow the team to absorb the knowledge and put it into use, thus changing the culture of the plant?

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About the Author
Paul Farless is an industrial service technician for Noria Corporation. His duties include collecting data and preparing reports for the engineering team. Prior to joining Noria, Paul worked as an aut...