Do I need environmental training courses?

Written By: Dennis Ruhlin | Sep 9, 2021

Time to Read 10 Minutes





Find out if online environmental training courses are right for you and your business.

Environmental training is one of the most common non-compliance issues companies deal with. In fact, one of the most common things people reach out to us in surprise about is missing a form of annual training, such as SPCC Training or Stormwater Permit Training. We often hear things like do I really need this training? Or is environmental training required?

Well, sometimes the answer is yes, you need environmental training, while other times it's no, with an asterisk! Let's go over this topic and dive into whether or not you need environmental training courses.

Do I need to take environmental training?

The answer to whether or not you, your staff, or your organization needs environmental training is... it depends! Things such as the permits and approvals you operate under, internal company policies, knowledge & skill level, etc., can all factor into whether or not you actually NEED to take any type of environmental training.

The key question here is NEED. Do you actually need environmental training? Here are some analogies we commonly use to explain the difference.

  • Do you NEED to follow the speed limit? The answer is yes unless you want to risk getting in trouble. The same goes for various types of environmental regulatory permits and approvals. Some of these regulated areas of concern (permits, plans, approvals, laws, rules, regulations, whatever might apply to your facility) do REQUIRE annual training for anyone involved in managing and maintaining permit compliance.
  • Do you NEED to go to take guitar lessons? The answer is no, you are free to make your own decisions, and if learning the guitar isn't something that's important to you, then you don't need to do that. The same goes for environmental training when it comes to things like environmental management systems, or sustainability practices, or anything that's above and beyond the baseline of simply "following the law".
  • Do you NEED to go to a good doctor? Again, the answer is no. You can go to a quack and get bad advice, information, and recommendations, which could end up hurting you in the long run. Or, you can get looked at by an expert. The same goes for environmental training. You can take junky, generic, outdated training, or you can work with experts to deliver the right training for you and your needs.
  • Do you NEED to bank online? Again, nope! You can drive to the bank, stand in line, and do whatever you need to do, or, you can do it all online easily and quickly, and at your convenience. Online environmental training courses are convenient and can be taken at any time that works best for you. They're quickly becoming more popular than traditional courses because of the convenience, flexibility, and interactivity they offer students.

If you find yourself thinking any of the following, then you're starting to understand some of the reasoning around needing environmental training.

  • Do any of my environmental permits, plans, or other environmental regulations require some form of regular training?
  • How do I ensure that my employees know their responsibilities in regard to environmental issues?
  • Do I or does my company have a plan for continuous environmental education within the business?
  • Can I track employee training and ensure everyone is properly educated?
  • Do I feel knowledgeable enough to instruct environmental training myself, or will I need outside help?

Let's take a deeper dive into each of these questions.

Do I need environmental training courses?

Do any of my environmental permits, plans, or other environmental regulations require some form of regular environmental training?

Depending on your specific environmental situation, you may actually be required to obtain some form of regular training or education for you, your employees, or even your whole operation. Often this is once-a-year, annual training, but could be more often depending on the permit, plan, or regulation. Things like stormwater discharge permits, air quality permits, and SPCC Plans are some of the most common areas we see these requirements for documented annual training.

So in this instance, yes, you do need environmental training.

How do I ensure that my employees know their responsibilities in regard to environmental issues?

Nearly every business has some degree of environmental regulation to comply with. Since your employees are your "boots on the ground" to carry out your company's required responsibilities, it's important to make sure they're aware of their responsibilities, know how to carry these responsibilities out, and the very real danger of non-compliance. All too often we hear of staff members getting into trouble, let go, or in extreme cases, prosecuted for failing to follow through with basic environmental regulatory compliance items such as inspections or stormwater monitoring.

Ask yourself: what sort of environmental risks do we face as an organization (if you can't answer this part, you definitely need environmental training), and are our employees knowledgeable enough to help minimize these risks?

Environmental training courses are surely worth considering if you have employees that are regularly expected to perform tasks that could impact the environment. These employees will need to see themselves as a part of your overarching environmental compliance program, and environmental training is a great way of doing just that. If they don't know what's expected of them and don't know how their day-to-day activities can help or hurt the company's environmental compliance levels, they can't be expected to help keep your operation in compliance. The best way to make sure that they do know what's expected is by providing them with interactive, engaging, and informative training.

In this instance, you, and your staff members who are involved (even peripherally) need training if you want to stay in compliance, and out of trouble.

Do I have a plan for continuous environmental education within the business?

Environmental education doesn't stop once you've completed your training sessions. In fact, many organizations are requiring ongoing environmental training, in a similar fashion to continuing education credits within various professions. Regardless of position, we are seeing organizations require quarterly, or even monthly, environmental training. This could be anything from formal classroom styled training, to something short and sweet like monthly briefs held over a cup of coffee in a break room.

It's important to keep an ongoing plan in place to ensure your employees are regularly staying updated on environmental issues and changes that may affect the business. Even in cases where training is only required on an annual basis once a year, we strongly recommend training more often - at least quarterly. Traditional in-person training makes this more difficult since for every session you'll need to "rally the troops", consider scheduling conflicts, potentially hire an environmental professional to instruct the training (if the topic is outside your wheelhouse), etc.

Conversely, online courses can be a great way of solving this problem. With online courses, you're able to make sure that everyone is up to date with important news or environmental regulatory concerns & training, no matter where they are, or when they have spare time. Your employees will be able to access the online courses at any time from any mobile device, so training is available in a pinch whenever you feel like you or your employees need it - without any of the complicated planning.

So in this case, the answer is it depends if you need training, based on some of your organization's best practices and internal policies.

How do I track employee training and ensure everyone is properly educated?

If you're required to keep records of your employees' environmental training (and for most environmental regulations, you are), online courses are a great tool for keeping on top of that requirement. And, even if you're not required to keep records, it's probably a good idea to have them anyway in case you need to prove you or your staff has been trained on various topics. After all, the more information you have on your staff's training and education, the better.

Online environmental training courses can help to take this weight off of your shoulders. Environmental training courses typically offer some sort of comprehension tracking that will help you to track and assess your employees' understanding of the training material. With knowledge checks, quizzes, and interactive role-playing scenarios you'll be able to see where your employees are understanding the material, as well as where they're having trouble and might need some further training or clarification. And, most online environmental training courses offer certificates of completion - so no more documenting those training session attendees by hand!

This doesn't help answer yes or no on whether or not you'll need any environmental training courses but helps illustrate how online courses can help keep you in compliance with environmental regulatory programs.

Do I need environmental training?

Do I feel knowledgeable enough to instruct environmental training myself, or will I need outside help?

This is the question we hear and ask our clients all the time. Usually, there's no strict rule on exactly who is (or isn't) qualified enough to provide environmental training, so, you may be able to instruct your staff yourself. Although providing the training yourself may be a noble gesture on your part, don't underestimate the time and knowledge required to do it. Not to mention, there may be some risks associated with conducting training yourself. In instances where training is required as a part of an environmental permit, plan, or other regulation, you could end up in trouble if a regulator deems your training insufficient! That goes double for if you break a rule, regulation, or law, and it's found out you've been training people on bad information. It's like filing your taxes yourself. If you do it wrong, don't expect the IRS to cut you any slack.

If you don't feel comfortable conducting environmental training sessions yourself, or want more in-depth training from someone who really knows what they're talking about, it's probably best to recruit some outside help. Environmental training courses are typically developed by environmental professionals with years of real-world experience in the topics they cover. In most cases, these courses are created by experts who have an intimate knowledge of the type of training required to complete a task or job function. A course developed by an expert not only teaches you what you need to know but also how you should apply that information while conducting your day-to-day activities. And, it's usually much less expensive to purchase a training course developed by an environmental professional than it would be to hire them to conduct training in-person at your site!

In this case, again, yes, you do need environmental training.

If you need environmental training, online courses are your best bet.

Online environmental training courses can be a great benefit to your business in many ways. They are convenient, cost-effective, and typically feature material that was designed by experts who know what they're talking about. In addition to the benefits of traditional in-person courses, online courses also eliminate some of the drawbacks, such as poor quality instructors, inefficient pacing, and learning that is not engaging and difficult to retain.

Environmental training courses are a convenient and powerful tool for conducting environmental training. Training courses can save your business time, money, and frustration in many ways: they allow you to train the way you want to train, not the way it's presented; they make learning easier because you can take as much or as little time as necessary without being held to an instructor's pace or keeping up with a group; they save you money and allow you to train your employees at a lower cost than hiring outside experts to come in and teach it for you.

If you're considering online environmental training courses, first figure out how much time and effort would be required on your part to conduct a traditional training session. Then, ask yourself: is it really worth the time and energy I'll spend conduct my own in-house training? Will it be the most effective and cost-efficient use of my time?

In most cases, it makes more sense to use online environmental training courses - just make sure you find a high-quality one!

Where can I find environmental training courses?

By now, you probably realize that an online environmental training course has plenty of benefits and is the likely right choice for what you need. But where should you look to find an online environmental training course?

We've been conducting in-person environmental training for over 30 years across the world. We've seen and done it all. Now, we're bringing our environmental training expertise online!

We offer environmental training courses in a variety of topics on our online environmental training portal, ranging from required training to big-picture topics. We're always adding new courses and updating available material, so if you don't see what you're looking for, check back soon! Or, drop us a line and suggest a new environmental training topic. We're always open to suggestions!

I need additional environmental training help!

If you’re in the role of a trainer or trainee, this might be a lot to take in. If you're overwhelmed, you're not alone. RMA has been actively involved in helping companies get environmental training since our founding in 1992. We can help you get trained, so you can stay in compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations, ensuring your business stays out of trouble and in compliance.

Our staff members have been on-site at thousands of commercial and industrial operations across the country, so when we say we've seen it all and done it all, we mean it. We've provided environmental training to everyone, from globe-spanning, multi-national organizations to small "mom & pop" operations. No matter your size, industry, or location, we'd love to learn how we can help with your environmental training needs.

If you're having any type of issue at your operation with your environmental training program, need any type of environmental training, or anything else, and need the help of an environmental consulting firm with a proven track record, reach out. Even if we can't help, we’ll do our best to steer you in the right direction. Feel free to contact us at info@rmagreen.com, click here to contact us, or give us a call anytime at 888-RMA-0230 to learn how we can help your operation deal with environmental regulations.

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