Transparency in the workplace is not always easy to achieve. However, when you work in an industry that requires it, it�s important to make openness and accountability a priority; both in your operations and among your staff. When it comes to managing a water treatment plant or working in the water management industry, you know that transparency is an integral part of your daily job.
Because water management facilities service vast areas and cities, most are subject to EPA regulations. The EPA has monitoring in place to �protect public health by ensuring the safety of drinking water.� To avoid punitive action from the EPA and to best serve the residents in your area, you must take the necessary actions to ensure you are meeting those regulations.
In order to ensure compliance with regulations, the EPA conducts inspections that involve the following:
- interviewing staff and associated site representatives
- reviewing data and other reports
- taking photographs
- collecting samples
- observing operations
Check out the EPA�s Drinking Water Regulatory Information for guidance. In addition to these inspections, the EPA can make an official Information Request. According to the EPA, �These requests normally ask for information on facility operations, records, reports, or other documents to verify or substantiate the compliance status of the facility or the site.�
Transparency is not only important for your customers, but it is necessary to maintain compliance with the EPA. How can you ensure you are compliant? Here are some tips:
- Implement a documented training procedure: A documented training procedure ensures that all employees receive the same training. In addition, you are able to show verification that employees have been properly trained if an issue should arise.
- Maintain accurate records and reports: Make sure that you are keeping appropriate records. As is apparent by EPA regulations, they can and may inspect your plant and ask for historical evidence that illustrates you are complying with standards. Data is your friend. Also, it is a good idea to use an effective organizational strategy so that these records can be easily accessed when necessary.
- Involve your staff: Make sure the expectation for compliance is a well-known policy and that you are encouraging each and every member of your staff to take part. If everyone is involved, there is less chance of noncompliance.
- Make a record of processes, maintenance procedures, updates, issues, and any other relevant information: Keeping a record of necessary items will help you. Having organized data shows that you are informed and that you have taken appropriate steps to follow procedure.
If you want to illustrate the importance of transparency in overall plant functions, you also need to make it a part of your workplace culture. Here are some tips for supporting transparency in your plant:
- Promote honest, open communication among your management and employees: Honesty will only work if your staff practices it in all forms of communication. Respond positively if an employee voices an honest opinion. This will send the message that you support open communication and appreciate honest feedback.
- Set up opportunities for open discussion and feedback: This helps you catch possible problems before they happen. If you work to promote an open work environment, your employees will be more likely to share ideas and brainstorm better work processes. These ideas could also lead to improvements at your plant. In addition, your staff will be less afraid that sharing problems might incite a negative reaction and you will be notified of issues sooner.
- Encourage employees to be a part of the problem-solving process: This helps you identify problems sooner and encourages your employees to be an active part in developing solutions. You can do this in many ways. You can set up team meetings where employees are encouraged to share concerns, feedback, or ideas. You can share a document publicly and ask for feedback. You can request ideas for process improvement. You can even arrange for anonymous reporting to eliminate anxiety associated with public backlash. Any way to choose to approach it, encouraging employees to be a part of the process is a great way to support transparency and foster respect.
You will see positive results if you make transparency a part of your work culture. Not only will you see an improvement in staff relations and overall morale, but you will notice that the honest attitude will also carry over into your plant operations.