Review of environmental training practices in selected businesses in Durban.
Environmental management has moved from a policy concept to a proactive strategy defining business responsiveness to stakeholder and market-related pressures for more environmentally sustainable business practices. Paradoxically, the financial benefits accrued to businesses at the often externalised expense of environmental goods and services, is the very advantage that best positions it to respond to the environmental crisis. The importance of a systematic and proactive environmental response from the business community is compelled by the fact that environmental impacts are predominantly caused by errant pollutant and non-compliant business activities which is increasingly regulated through South African environmental legislation. The business response through corporate sustainability and environmental management is considered a sweeping change to business as usual. Increasing environmental regulations make the adoption of environmental management systems such as ISO 14001 more commonplace. In adapting to these changes in the workplace, it makes environmental training and awareness of employees a material avenue of investigation which further directs the aim of this study. In applying the ISO 14001 certification criterion, through a purposive and nonprobable sampling technique, twenty-four (24) Durban businesses have participated in this study. Similarly, in addition, fifteen (15) employees undergoing environmental training along with five (5) other role-players and stakeholders that relevantly bear on environmental training practices participated in this research, which was conducted through the use of survey questionnaires. The extent of adoption of environmental training and its effective reach across company structures has been assessed against seven (7) developed environmental training principles of this study. The selected businesses and other respondents in Durban show keen awareness, attitudes and perceptions regarding environmental training. Environmental training is a widely practiced activity across all the businesses sampled with topic coverage focussed predominantly on waste management, hazardous chemicals, and environmental auditing. The environmental training activities are largely combined with other Safety and Health priorities. Whilst this has no perceived negative impact on the content of environmental training, there is an indication that environmental training budget allocations are not effectively prioritised in combination with other training activities. The implementation of training across the company tiers shows executive levels in need of greater exposure to this activity. While the respondents predominantly showed limited satisfaction with environmental training received, various areas of improvement became clear such as greater management commitment, greater institutional assistance for clarity of training standards, course offerings and inter-industry collaboration in environmental training.
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