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Training Essential as Job Departures Leave Skills Void

Chemical distributors have suffered a significant turnover of employee’s post-pandemic, along with the baby boomer generation retiring, a huge amount of knowledge and expertise is being lost.

As a result, it’s never been more important to ensure those who remain are adequately trained and understand the many laws, regulations, and rules required to operate safely, says Pete Downing, President of Environment & Safety Solutions, Inc. (ESS).

“Companies are running lean right now and not by intention. People are getting overworked and overburdened. They're trying to do too much; we all are,” says Downing. “Everyone’s working longer hours, and it’s causing a lot of mental lapses. Many new people are hired into these roles and their training is so critical. When there is attention to safety and training, we don't see nearly as many incidents or accidents.”

As a strategic partner of NACD, ESS helps members meet the myriad regulatory requirements, as well as the requirements of Responsible Distribution. ESS also regularly presents webinars, workshops, and NACD U regulatory courses. Recent sessions have included Fire Protection, CERCLA, Waste Management, and Toxic Release Inventory Training.

NACD members are eligible for a discounted price on ESS services, as well as a free half-hour consultation each quarter.

“We work extremely closely with NACD on the regulatory side to develop comments and responses to proposals and rules for the different regulations that are coming out, looking at them from a chemical distributor’s perspective,” says Downing, who currently sits on NACD’s Government Policy & Advocacy Committee (GPAC), working alongside NACD’s Jennifer Gibson and Doug Leigh.

ESS Vice President Rachelle Alexander is Chair of the ChemEdge committee. Downing and Alexander were named NACD Affiliates of the Year in 2021.

“We've been working in this business a long time and we think it’s important to give something back to the industry,” adds Downing. “We believe we should be working with our community and the association to help teach companies about the various rules and standards – so they understand not just what they mean but the nuance around them. Our role is to offer support and feedback. We aim to be a resource you can rely on.”

ESS also advocates for the chemical distribution industry by participating in the Washington Fly-In each year, meeting with members of Congress and regulatory agencies, and providing feedback and advocacy on upcoming laws.

The business has supplied customized training and support to the distribution industry for the past 20 years, with its in-house and virtual courses covering topics such as Hazard Communication, Emergency Planning, Personal Protective Equipment, and Respiratory Protection.

It also offers a rapid emergency response service, assisting companies when they need immediate support by attending facilities located within a few hours’ radius of its New-Jersey offices, or participating by phone for facilities outside driving distance.

“A lot of times, an inspector may be at your facility and asking questions using very technical language. Often companies may know the rules, but perhaps don’t understand some specific terms,” says Downing. “We like to think of ourselves as a translation service by explaining what everything means. Emergency response is a premium service we offer that means we drop everything and focus 100 percent on your problem until it's resolved.”

Such is the growing demand for ESS’ services, the business recently announced new hire, Jessica Carr as Manager – Educational Services, to help further develop the portfolio and grow its online offering.

“In-person training is really important, but we believe there's also a place for remote virtual training,” says Downing. “We recognize that everyone learns differently, and we bring a lot of adult learning principles to our training. That's why we incorporate auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements and include open discussions and hands-on demonstrations. We modify our training depending on the different backgrounds and cultures of the individuals being trained.”

“We develop training programs based on the specific needs of an organization – looking at the inventory of chemicals, risks, and hazards, as well as the people working there, and any accidents, injuries, or illnesses. Based on all that information, we develop a training program that fits the needs of your company right now – not five years from now and not five years ago.”

ESS continues to accept new clients, including to support training obligations throughout the country.

To find out more about Environment & Safety Solutions, Inc., visit

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