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Training, especially in the energy industry, is a critical part of onboarding new employees successfully. Even more so, training should be regularly updated. This is especially true for any safety manager at a power plant. Starting out can feel overwhelming, but here are a few ideas on how to support your success right from the first day.

Connect with Previous Safety Personnel

The first thing you want to do is to speak to the previous safety professional. It’s possible you already have been working with that person, but if not, you need to find out what their experience has been like and learn about the safety performance at the facility. At power-generation facilities, this person might not have had a safety title. He or she could be a plant manager or someone from operations and maintenance. Meet with this person as soon as possible and document everything you learn about weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks that need to be performed.

Take Training Seriously

As a manager, you are responsible for reviewing all employee training records, including those for RCRA and other plant operator certifications. Additional training is needed for someone who is signing the hazardous waste manifests. Assign trainings based on tasks performed so there will be consistency among employees. For example, welding training must be assigned to all employees performing the task, even though it only may be a few technicians on the site. Keeping training records for onsite contractors is good practice, and records for all employees should be maintained.

Stay on Top of Permits and Certificates

Almost all power plants have air Title V, stormwater, municipal wastewater, and fire department permits. Complying with regulations regarding air permits is vitally essential, and there are hourly and annual compliance guidelines. Check your Air Title V permit and understand your emissions limits for NOx, CO, ammonia slip, and fuel firing limits. Review the calibration procedures for your continuous emissions monitors (CEMs).

There is a lot of paperwork and reporting for power-generation facilities. Some municipal waste permits require facilities to submit monthly wastewater reports; do you work in a community that requires them?  Review all fire department and chemistry lab certificates; are they up to date? Make sure you import and save all reporting due dates into your calendar – local, state-federal, including EPA and OSHA – and assign alarms to those dates, so you know when something is due.

Safety Culture Matters

A corporate culture that prioritizes training and safety is one that makes safety everyone’s responsibility, not just the safety professional. When leadership takes safety seriously, when even the janitorial staff takes safety seriously, that is a culture where businesses perform well in risk management and the safety of their staff. Trainings around safety shouldn’t just be considered something to check off your larger to-do list. They need to be the cornerstones of your team’s work. If the expectation is there that safety comes first, along with all the “extra” work that involves, then that is when a true safety culture has been created.

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