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While we may match your stormwater fervor, your colleagues or staff probably are not as excited about stormwater pollution prevention as you are. So, how can you get your stormwater pollution prevention team more engaged? Want to elevate your facilities dedication to your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)? Well, then a tailgate-style meeting could be exactly what you need!

Tailgate Training: Mapistry Style

First, what the heck is a tailgate meeting?

A tailgate-style meeting stems from the construction industry where short, succinct meetings are held around….you guessed it….a pickup truck’s tailgate. Often times these are used to plan the day’s activities or review a critical safety concern before starting the day. We like to use these “style” of meetings to focus a team’s stormwater attention on one particular issue for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t stretch it longer than that, otherwise, you start to lose the staff’s attention and the impact…………………

EHS tailgate meeting.jpg

Oh, why should we care?

Well, besides training being one of the basic Best Management Practices (BMPs) that every facility needs to implement, it can help you avoid issues or deficiencies with SWPPP compliance. Plus no one, even those who don’t usually don’t care about stormwater, wants to get caught off-guard when an inspector rolls up to their facility.

Documenting training meetings with a simple sign-in sheet can meet some of your requirements under the “training” BMP. Scheduled meetings can be used to regularly address new problem areas and keep everyone focused on the SWPPP outside of the simple once a month inspection. If you don’t document your training……there “never” was any training.

The more training your Pollution Prevention Team (PPT) members are getting, the more they start to have a heightened awareness of conditions at the facility and better motivation to keep it looking good.

In the long run….more training means better compliance, fewer problems, lower costs.

So what should our training look like?

Training documents, something you can point to and reference with your team, can be formatted a lot of ways. A short handout, bullet point style, maybe some nice pictures (I hear they’re worth a thousand words!) is a great default style. Just make sure the content is presented in an engaging and motivating way. Key pieces of information need to be presented clearly and concisely maybe even BOLDED or underlined (notice what I am doing here…..got you to focus, right?).

Quarterly training example-1.png

Leverage this content in a roundtable discussion in the field where the PPT members connect with each other, personally relating with their own stories.

Now how do we create this tailgate training?

  1. Pick a relevant subject. (This can be anything, a recent city inspection, a specific housekeeping problem you’ve seen on-site, or where not to dump your mop bucket)
  2. Now apply it to your facility. (What can you do about it? What are some points you could discuss openly, get others opinions on how to create the best solution.)
  3. Write down the primary points with short descriptions.
  4. Schedule a meeting onsite with the PPT members and discuss

Need an Example?

Step 1 – Pick a Subject
Every company struggles with Good Housekeeping. Really? Is your site the outlier? I don’t think so.

Step 2 – Apply it to Your Site
I’ll take a walk around the site, pay attention to areas of concern such as; dumpsters, material storage, anywhere there might be potential pollutants.

  • Is everything ship-shape?
  • Or are those nasty potential pollutants ready and waiting for their chance in a storm to give me headaches with exceedances?
  • If it were to downpour rain suddenly, would I be worried any material would piggyback on the flow of water?
  • Can I imagine the pollutant juices oozing from the debris and turning the water a different color?

If I can see any or all of that happening, it might be time to….Sweep up and clean up materials, repair waste bins, reduce vehicle or foot traffic through areas where track out may occur. 

hole in dumpster with plastic.jpgHole in bottom of a dumpster with plastic bits.

Step 3 – Write it down
Now I’m going to write down the areas that need some work and use the information from the permit to see what the best ways to clean up those areas might be.

  • Waste dumpsters are overflowing, trash and debris on the floor = Schedule the dumpsters to be emptied, sweep up trash in the area.
  • Trash is being tracked through the rest of the site from the waste area = Ask forklift drivers and foot traffic to avoid walking through the trash area to get into the building, or relocating the trash area to be further away from operations.

Step 4 – Photos and sign-in
I snap a photo of the dumpster area to demonstrate how dirty it is and include it on the tailgate sheet, with a sign-in section at the bottom.

overflowing dumpster and boxes stormwater inspection.jpgOverflowing dumpster with recyclables piled next to it.

Step 5 – Meeting time
I gather up the team for a meeting at 10 am the next day, and we talk about the issues. As we talk, I like to walk around the facility to point out the issues we’re discussing. When we get to the dumpster area and consider the problem as a team.

Last time we did this, one of the members suggested changing the frequency of the trash removal service since it’s been a problem for a while. They want to increase to twice a week for the dumpsters to be emptied. This is a great solution because the dumpsters can stay where they are at, and increased sweeping and cleaning won’t be necessary. The solution fixes multiple areas of concern.

Keys to Success

PASSION! Passion goes a very long way in compliance; it helps create an attitude to reduce pollutants and take extra care in everyday tasks. If you have passion, it can carry a lot even if your content isn’t as sharp. If you speak with passion, people get excited even if it is just to do something mundane. How can you create passion in those around you? You’ve got to be passionate yourself! Make these meetings FUN and memorable!

RELEVANCE. Training is important! It keeps the PPT members engaged and actively thinking about improvements to implement on the site as long as the content is relevant. Active discussions on environmental issues of any sort will lead to the team members becoming more passionate.

PRACTICALITY. Remember to always keep an open mind to the ideas of those implementing the everyday BMP actions! Don’t overlook suggestions from ALL the staff as those on the frontlines often can come up with the most creative and practical solutions!

PASSION! Did I say that already?

Need help finding your stormwater passion? We can help with that. Sign up for a workshop where we get you EXCITED about stormwater! Then we can show you how to do the same for others!

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