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Why Provide Environmental Training to Employees?

Although many businesses rightly consider health and safety training as a necessary and vital event to provide to their employees, not as many consider environmental training with the same enthusiasm or sense of necessity, even though the two topics are now often combined and grouped together, with trainers often specialising in both subjects. The fact is that with a growing sense of environmental responsibility amongst the population, not to mention an increasing amount of legislation on the issue, the need for environmental training is gaining in importance all of the time.

The presence of more environmental legislation and the enormous power of social media these days which can devastate the image and reputation (and ultimately, sales!) of a company practically overnight means that it is imperative for companies to take steps in order to comply with legislation and prevent environmental accidents and disasters. A failure to do so can result in serious financial consequences for them, not to mention potential criminal charges in severe instances, in the same way as a health and safety breach could end up doing. Managers and directors therefore need to ensure that environmental training is given the attention and priority which it deserves, especially at times when budgets are being squeezed.

Without training, people are unlikely to be aware of everything they need to know regarding how to act or perform a task or process in a desired manner. This applies to environmental issues also. It is remiss of managers and directors to assume that employees will have the required level of knowledge or, if they do, the desire to apply it as they go about their workplace duties. This is where environmental training courses like the popular NEBOSH Environmental Certificate come into play, as it will not only provide attending delegates with a thorough amount of environmental knowledge and best practice, but will also instil into them the necessity as to why the issues are so important from a moral and a legal perspective.

By providing your employees with environmental training in conjunction with health and safety training, not only do you have a workforce which knows how to conform and comply with applicable laws and legislation, but also one which will be far less likely to perform an action or inaction which could bring about an accident or incident that cause reputational and financial catastrophe for the company.

The Advantages of Environmental Health and Safety Training

The increase in popularity of environmental health and safety training courses is due to the increasing pressures that are being placed upon businesses from both a legal and a financial perspective. This has resulted in a much greater need for environmental courses and qualifications like the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate and Diploma.

From a legal point of view, those directors and managers responsible for running a business must ensure that it complies with all applicable legislation with regards to the environment and aspects such as pollution. A failure to learn and understand this legislation, as well as not implementing appropriate safety and control measures to prevent breaches, can result in substantial fines which can have severe financial consequences for the company, as well as possible imprisonment for those in charge if the occurrence is severe enough to warrant criminal charges in the particular jurisdiction.

The financial consequences include those mentioned in the paragraph above in terms of fines for breaches, but also include the potential lost sales from damage to the company's reputation that would come from boycotts of the firm's products or services if they became known as major polluters themselves or were heavily associated with suppliers that are. Examples of environmental events which can cause serious damage to brand image and reputation include oil spills, destruction of large swathes of animal habitat or deforestation to construct new buildings, and the testing of cosmetic products on animals. The drop in sales as a result of this shunning of the company's products can be so serious that it may even force the business into bankruptcy.

Employee Involvement after Environmental Health and Safety Training

After the completion of an environmental health and safety training course or programme many managers may think that they can then go ahead and impose measures or methods of working which have the intention of preventing the chances of environmental accidents from occurring and improving the use and management of resources by the company. Whilst this is certainly their prerogative as the management of the business, it is highly likely that results will be much superior if workers and employees are involved in this process rather than having it imposed upon them with little or no input from them. As well as environmental issues, this is also true of most if not all health and safety considerations.

Why Is Worker Involvement So Beneficial?

Worker involvement in idea generation and decision making when it comes to the implementation of procedures and controls to safeguard their health and safety has a number of benefits. For starters they are likely to come up with ideas and suggestions which management have not thought of, as they are the ones who are on the front line so to speak and are facing or encountering these hazards. This will almost certainly mean that they can identify dangers or issues which need addressing that management who are likely to be remote or distant from the operations, either in an administration department away from the shop floor or even based in a different location entirely, may not even know exist. After they have received the relevant environmental health and safety training and/or qualifications, they will be able to provide a much more relevant and informed opinion upon potential environmental concerns.

Involving workers in the environmental safety process once they have received the training will also more often than not increase their levels of buy-in and commitment to the new processes, procedures and ways of working. Rather than resisting a process which is forced upon them, workers who have been involved in the development and are partly responsible for its introduction in the current format are much more likely to comply with the changes that are involved and attempt make it a success.

Using Training to Instil an Environmental Awareness Culture

Throughout a variety of other health and safety articles we have seen how the successful promotion and development of a comprehensive health and safety culture within a business or organisation depends to a great extent upon the attitudes of management. If managers do not regard health and safety training or the need for working safely as particularly important, or prioritise the achievement of deadlines through sacrificing safety controls in order to save time, then the likelihood of accidents occurring are greatly increased.

Just as the health and safety of employees and nearby members of the public can be impacted through attitudes and the business culture instilled by management, so too can approaches and ways of thinking when it comes to the environment. In fact, environmental issues are often given even less respect than the health, safety and wellbeing of human beings, as many managers and directors will only focus upon their particular company and its operations in a microcosm without considering the negative effects which they may be having upon the local environment. Often this is because the effects are likely to be small when viewed as a single event, but the cumulative effects over a long period of time could mean that they have a devastating impact upon the environment.

Whilst it is all too easy and tempting for managers to instruct workers to sacrifice environmental and health and safety controls and safeguards in order to meet deadlines, increased legislation and better rights for workers means that it is more likely than ever before for managers, directors and owners of a business to face civil or criminal prosecution for violations of laws and regulations. A greater interconnection between people all over the world through the internet and social media means that negative news events, such as those brought about through bad accidents or environmental damage can have ruinous effects upon the reputation of a company.

This means that instilling an environmental awareness culture within an organisation is more important than ever before if a business wants to prosper in the 21st century, just as it is to create a health and safety culture also. This will ultimately come from managers and directors, through the provision of environmental training courses like the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate and ensuring that environmental control procedures and safeguards which have been introduced are understood, enforced and complied with, both during normal business operations and when deadlines are tight. When workers know that these methods of working are not optional or flexible, they are much more likely to conform to them at all times rather than picking and choosing whether to apply them or not.

What Environmental Training Is Available For Employees?

Environmental training for workers and employees varies tremendously, with individual and specific qualifications including the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate being available, as well as environmental elements included on the syllabus of other accredited courses such as the IOSH Managing Safely Certificate and on NEBOSH General Certificate training courses. There is also training available on specific topics which also have a bearing upon the environment, for example COSHH and hazardous substances.

For more information about environmental health and safety training and how we can assist you or your organisation with its requirements, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the "Contact" tab at the top of the page.

Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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