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Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies for Plating Operations

Section 2 - General Waste Reduction Practices


2.3.1 Employee Awareness and Education

Employees are often the fundamental cause of the generation of waste and conversely, they are in the most advantageous position to employ pollution prevention and control. Without employee cooperation, even the best efforts of management will be ineffective or futile. As stated by one survey respondent: Operator input into pollution prevention is essential for their ìbuy-in.î Further, most pollution prevention methods will fail unless the operators believe that the methods will work (PS 257).

Employee awareness and education begins with a clear company policy with regard to the environment and plans for pollution prevention and control (see Section 2.2). The policy must be conveyed to the employees and reinforced in various ways in order to create a sufficiently positive attitude toward meeting the companyís environmental goals.

There are three stages to instilling a good pollution prevention attitude in employees and providing them with the needed knowledge to perform successfully. These are: prior to job assignment, during job training, and on-going education throughout employment (ref. 303). This training should include the following elements:

  • How, why and where waste is produced and how to minimize it (e.g., good rinsing practices).
  • Preventive maintenance methods that reduce waste generation (e.g., tank/liner inspection and repair).
  • Company rules for handling process chemicals and making process (tank) additions.
  • Procedures for handling spills/leaks.
  • How to operate pollution prevention and control technologies in their working area.
  • Where to go for assistance with a non-routine problem.
  • Capabilities and capacities of waste treatment processes.
  • Environmental regulations and how they relate to the processes the employees operate.
  • Why pollution prevention is important (cost, regulations, health and safety, improved working environment, improved environment).
  • How related waste management operating costs (e.g., chemicals, water, waste treatment, hazardous waste) impact employee wages.

The advantages of establishing company rules and employee training will be reduced or eliminated unless the program has a method of measuring success and can deal with those who refuse to participate. Success should be quantified, whenever possible. This means companies should collect chemical use and waste generation data, maintain records and periodically evaluate the records. Data collection and record keeping are discussed in Section 2.3.2.

Bonuses, awards, plaques and other forms of recognition are often used to provide motivation, and to boost employee cooperation and participation. In some companies, meeting waste minimization goals is used as a measure for evaluating the job performance of managers and other employees (ref. 26).

Of the 318 plating shops responding to the Users Survey, 217 (or 68.2%) indicated that they conduct employee education for pollution prevention. The average success rating given by the respondents for this pollution prevention tool was 3.69 (see Exhibit 2-6).

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