EMS – 5 Tips for an Effective PowerPoint

crushed truck

A PowerPoint presentation can be an effective tool to assist in training.  The following are five tips for a successful presentation.

  • Hold to schedule – Determine how much time is allotted for the specified training.  Ensure that your presentation can be delivered in the specified amount of time, allowing time for questions.  If a training session is set for one hour, hold to it. Otherwise, people will begin to “tune out” and you will lose your ability to deliver the message.
  • Images and graphics – Images and graphical representations are a very effective way of delivering a message.  Remember, an image can say something a lot more succinctly than words.  Consider starting the presentation with a dramatic image to catch you audience’s attention.
  • Bullets – Use short bulleted points as discussion prompts.  Do not incorporate lengthy paragraphs; no one wants to have you read a paragraph to them.  If you need additional prompts to ensure all points are covered, use the notes section of the PowerPoint.
  • Prepare and rehearse – Take the time to properly prepare and rehearse the presentation.  Rehearse the presentation until you can accurately anticipate the next slide.  There is no substitute for preparation.
  • Anticipate questions – Allow time for, and anticipate questions.  One effective way I’ve found of doing this is to present the PowerPoint to some colleagues.  Allow them to ask questions and discuss responses, this will prepare you to respond to questions.

PowerPoint presentations can be an effective tool in the training of personnel.  Using these tips will help to capture and hold your audience’s attention.  Do you have any other suggestions for an effective PowerPoint?  As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.


EMS -Training and Competency


Training and competency is one of the key elements to create a culture of compliance and build an effective Environmental Management System (EMS). There are three basic steps to develop and implement an effective training program.

 What to train on?

Every work level should have a defined role and a set of responsibilities with respect to the EMS.  Based upon the roles and responsibilities, create a training matrix. The training matrix will provide a quick reference to determine what level of training is required for each role. Review your permits and environmental plan documents to ensure that all required training elements have been identified and entered into the matrix.

Who should conduct the training?

While it may be tempting to have environmental training conducted by the environmental department, training is you more effective if conducted by the employees direct supervisor.  Supervisors have already established credibility with their direct reports and the training will be more effective coming from them.  A representative from the environmental department can support the training by assisting the supervisors with the development of the training materials and resources.

 How do you test for competency?

Training is an essential element to ensure that employees have the knowledge to do their work correctly. How can you test for competency and understanding?  As part of the training, the supervisor should use open-ended questions to test for comprehension.  Training should be a dialogue where employees can ask questions and offer up comments and suggestions.  This form of training engages the employee and is more effective than just a monologue by the person conducting the training.

Training and testing for competency is essential to the success of the EMS.  What’s methods have you found to be the most successful for training?  How do you test for competency?  Please feel free to provide comments and suggestions.

EMS – Roles and Responsibilities

Truck and shovel

A successful Environmental Management System (EMS) will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities defined for each level of work.  These roles should be developed and communicated to those responsible to ensure that everyone understands their responsibility with respect to the EMS.  The following are a few guidelines for developing the roles and responsibilities for each level of work.  These can be customized, based upon your individual needs, but should include the following basic responsibilities.

General Manager – The most senior management individual on site should:

  • Demonstrate support for and be an advocate for the development of the EMS.  Without the support of senior management, an EMS cannot succeed.
  • Provide adequate financial and staffing resources to support the EMS
  • Demonstrate support for the incorporation of environmental considerations into operational and business decisions.

Environmental Department – The environmental department should:

  • Understand and track legal and other requirements to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Provide assistance to site managers and supervision on environmental issues
  • Assist in the training of management, employees and contractors
  • Develop programs to promote environmental awareness
  • Communicate with regulatory agencies
  • Provide guidance and maintain required permit approvals
  • Respond to and assist with environmental incidents and the development of corrective or preventative measures

Managers and Supervisors: – Site leadership should:

  • Demonstrate support for environmental programs and the EMS
  • Educate and train employees regarding environmental requirements and issues
  • Develop and implement work practices which comply with regulations and permit requirements
  • Ensure effective operation controls are in place and maintained to ensure compliance
  • Be responsible and accountable for compliance with legal and other requirements in their respective areas.
  • Identify, report, and correct environmental deficiencies that can result in non-compliance

Employees and Contractors- All employees, contractors, and vendors should:

  • Understand their job functions and the associated environmental issues and potential impacts
  • Perform their jobs in accordance with the prescribed training/procedures and in compliance with regulations and permit requirements
  • Identify and report environmental compliance issues
  • Cooperate and contribute to the overall success of the EMS and environmental programs

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will provide all levels of personnel with the understanding to perform their job function correctly.  Understanding your role with respect to the environment program is essential to an effective EMS.  What methods have you used to communicate and ensure that everyone understands their role in the EMS?  Please share your comments and suggestions.

EMS – Building a Culture of Compliance

Culture of Compliance

A culture of compliance is an essential component to a strong environmental management system (EMS).  There are several key elements which will work to foster a culture of environmental compliance throughout the organization.

  • Define roles and responsibilities – Everyone on the site must understand how their job relates to the environment.  They need to understand how what they do can affect and impact the site as a whole.
  • Know the permits – Everyone should know which permits apply to their roles and activities.  Supervisors should review key permit limits and requirements frequently to ensure important points are retained.
  • Empower your employees – Empower employees to come up with solutions to stay in compliance with the permit limits and requirements.  Employees performing the tasks will often times come up with the simplest and most effective solutions.
  • Visible leadership – Take the time to get out and observe employees performing their work.  Provide feedback and let them know when you seeing them doing something with a positive environmental aspect or outcome.  If something needs to be done differently, take the time to explain and discuss the potential outcomes and consequences.
  •  Hold people accountable – Accountability is one of the essential elements to creating a culture of compliance.  Employees must not only understand their roles and responsibilities; they must understand what the consequences of their actions will be, whether it is positive or negative.
  • Track and trend issues – Ensure that every point of non-compliance or potential non-compliance is investigated to determine the root cause.  A “five-why” is a simple exercise that can help determine the root cause.  Ask why it happened, then using that answer, ask why that happened.  Asking that question repeatedly will force you back to the causal factors which can then be addressed.

Creating a culture of environmental compliance is an essential step to creating an effective EMS.  Following these steps will result in a more engaged workforce, and with less compliance issues.  Do you have any other elements you have found to be essential to building a culture of compliance?

EMS – Tips for Setting Meaningful Goals and Targets


Setting goals and targets is an essential step to create a culture of continuous improvement.  After you have analyzed the aspects and impacts associated with your property and assigned them a score, it is time to set some goals and targets.  Without a target, you will never know if you’ve been successful.

Yogi Berra said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else”.

The following are some tips for creating successful goals and targets:

  1. Write them down.  A goal is only a wish if you don’t write them down.
  2. Make them SMART goals, that is:
    • Specific – Make your goals specific and well defined.  A goal to reduce water consumption by 10% is an example of a specific goal.  This example will achieve better results than a vague goal of simply “reduce water consumption”.
    • Measurable – Put some numbers to it.  If you can’t measure it, it isn’t specific.  A specific number will allow you to review your progress and focus your team on the end target.
    • Assignable – Who is responsible for following through and completing the goal?
    • Realistic – It’s okay to create a vision for your organization which is based on “reaching for the stars”, but keep your goals realistic.  If everyone does their part, the goal should be attainable.
    • Time based – Set a specific deadline for when you expect to achieve the goal or target.
  3. Create specific action plans in alignment with and targeted at achieving your goals.  This is your roadmap for how you are going to get there.  For example, if you don’t have any specific actions or projects to reduce water consumption, how will you ever achieve the 10% reduction?
  4. Set milestones.  Where should you be with respect to your goal three months from now?
  5. Track your progress.  Set specific dates to review your progress and check progress against your milestones.  Do you need to make adjustments to achieve your goal?
  6. Review and communicate.  After you have reached your deadline, review the goals and evaluate how successful you were in achieving the desired outcomes.  Communicate the results with the team, and celebrate your successes.

Setting meaningful goals and targets will lead to a culture of continuous improvement within your organization.  What has helped you to set successful goals? Please share your comments and feedback below.

EMS – Aspects, Who’s Keeping Score?

Irrigation Pivot

One of the most important steps in building a successful Environmental Management System (EMS) is to analyze and understand the aspects and impacts related to the mining activities.  After the aspects have been identified, create a ranking system to enable you to compare the various aspects associated with your facility.

Rank each of the identified aspects with your established ranking system and assign each of them a score.  Some of the aspects may have more than one score if it is determined that the aspect ranks differently based upon normal operating conditions versus emergency operating conditions.  Evaluate the aspects with the highest calculated scores and determine which of the aspects:

  • Have the potential to have the greatest impact on the environment.
  • Offer the greatest potential for improvement.
  • Are relevant to a large percentage of the workforce.
  • Are significant to the community and other stakeholders.

Based upon these criteria, and any others which may be significant to your facility, select a few significant environmental aspects to focus on for the year.  A thorough evaluation may yield some surprising results.  There may be aspects which may not have a significant compliance component; however, they may be very important to the community or may have strategic importance for future permitting efforts.

I work in an area where water resources are limited and can have a significant impact on other industries in the area.  While water conservation may not seem like a high priority issue if it is evaluated on a compliance level, the impact to the farming and ranching community can be significant.  A focus on the aspect of water consumption can yield some significant improvements with the implementation of a water conservation program.  Not only will this benefit the community as a whole, it will also build credibility which may facilitate future permitting actions.  It’s a win-win solution.

What aspects are significant at your site?  How do you go about ranking and scoring your aspects?  As always, I welcome comments and feedback on all of my blogs.

EMS – Analyzing the Aspects and Impacts

Haul Truck

Creating and implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) is more than just identifying the laws and regulations that apply to your facility and complying with the regulatory requirements contained in your permits.  An effective EMS will identify the environmental aspects (causes) of each of the processes occurring at your facility and analyze what impacts (effects) they have on the environment.  These aspects and impacts can then be linked to the regulatory requirements, identifying areas to improve performance and compliance.

In order to identify and analyze your aspects and impacts:

  • Organize your facility into groups.  For a small mine, these might include administration, mining, processing, and exploration.
  • Within each of the groups, identify the main processes.  For mining, processes may include dewatering, drilling, blasting, loading, hauling, dumping, fueling, maintenance, reclamation, and others.
  • Next, break down each of the processes into specific activities.  Blasting, for example, may be broken down into offloading ammonium nitrate, loading and transporting explosives, loading the blast holes, tying the blast pattern, detonation of the blast, and post blast activities.
  • Create a range of set answers for each of the questions used to analyze the aspects.
  • Identify each of the environmental aspects associated with these activities by asking the following questions:
  1. Does the activity have positive or negative impacts to the environment?  For example, does it produce air emissions, impact surface or ground water, impact the land, or deplete natural resources?  Does it impact vegetation or wildlife?
  2. While analyzing the impacts, consider the potential impacts during normal operations, upset conditions, and emergency conditions.  When are the potential impacts likely to occur?
  3. Are there any regulatory or other requirements associated with the identified aspect/impact?
  4. What is the likelihood of the impacts occurring?
  5. What are the severity of the impacts?  Would they result in limited reversible impacts or do they have potential to result in long-term environmental impacts?  Are there regulatory reporting requirements? Would the impact result in a breach of regulations with the potential for regulatory actions or fines?
  6. What are the costs of mitigating the impacts?
  7. How would you gauge the level of interest from regulators, community members and other stakeholders?

Identifying and analyzing the aspects and impacts associated with your facility will assist you in determining the areas of greatest concern and where your focus should be.  Understanding the aspects and impacts will allow you to better comply with the regulatory requirements and will help to create value-adding targets and goals for your environmental program.