This unit is based on the sustainability guideline standard of the same name. The focus is on resource efficiency and related environmental sustainability issues within a work area, team or process. It is not a highly technical unit. While resource efficiency will often focus energy resources it might also be applied to raw materials, components and human resources.
It does require measuring and improving performance, but these can often be achieved using simple techniques. It also includes implementing the improvements. The improvements will typically be ‘simple’ in that they focus on one area rather than having a strategic overview across different areas; and they will often be achieved through relatively low cost and/or procedural activities rather than capital expenditure projects.
Improvements might focus on:
- changes to procedures and practices that can be made within the team
- changing the inputs to be less hazardous or to use recycled materials
- changing the process to reduce consumption, reduce waste or reduce emissions
- protective mechanisms or activities to mitigate the impact on the environment.
As part of an AQF 4 qualification it is assumed that the learner will ‘… apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, judgement and limited responsibility in known or changing contexts and within established parameters’. Read more about AQF qualification levels…
In this unit, the autonomy and judgement might be demonstrated by a team leader who supports and assists their team. Or if the employee is not in a team leader role, it could be demonstrated by implementing improvements within their own area of responsibility. In both cases the employee has sufficient knowledge of work practices and sustainability issues and is in a role with sufficient autonomy to select and make the improvements.
The unit has ‘environmental’ in the title and this is the main focus; in particular, resource use. This can have a flow on effect on the other two ‘pillars’ of economic and social sustainability, but these do not need to be addressed to achieve the unit.
1 Investigate current practices in relation to resource usage
This is about finding out current resource usage and what needs to be improved. It includes measuring resource use. But this needs to happen in context. This means taking into account procedures and systems that can affect resource use. These will be sources of information about energy consumption but they also provide potential areas to focus environmentally sustainable work practices. The areas of improvement might not be specific activities and plans, just the areas where the analysis shows good opportunities to make a difference.
Regulations and compliance requirements are a critical part of the context as all of the improvements need to support compliance.
2 Set targets for improvement
This moves into the specifics of working with the right people so that improvements can be defined, planned and implemented. There could be many different ways to address an area or issue that has been identified and some might be more effective than others. So it is important to find out what other people are doing. This could mean any or all of researching industry best practice, codes and innovations, seeking specialist advice, consulting with colleagues or other mechanisms.
Stakeholders will also include team or work group members and management, and getting them involved at this stage helps to generate engagement with the process.
This element takes the baseline measurement from Element 1 and sets targets for improvements. This gives concrete goals to work towards and allows progress to be monitored. The targets can also help with evaluating the potential improvements and selecting which ones to implement.
3 Implement performance improvement strategies
Now it is time to put the plans into action and embed the environmentally sustainable work practices into ‘business as usual’. Improvement strategies may not be formal plans for changes that need top level approvals, but in some cases that will be appropriate. One strategy might be to establish procedures, signs, toolbox talks and a monitoring system so that everyone turns off plant and equipment not currently required. Another might be to provide skills development and revised procedures for machine operators so that they can ‘tweak’ performance to reduce fuel or electricity use.
But there is no point pursuing something that is not delivering the desired benefits or that could be done better. So a continuous improvement system should be used and adjustments made along the way.
4 Monitor performance
Performance over time is a key issue. This element builds on the continuous improvement approach in Element 3 with ongoing monitoring and taking action to keep the activities on track. This maximises the potential for sustained improvements, and helps to ensure that everyone’s investment is rewarded with a successful outcome.
Promoting the achievements or ‘celebrating successes’ also helps to achieve sustained improvements. It can support culture change, reinforce the new practices and provide a direct reward for input.
Further improvements might also be identified in this element. These could be new ideas that flow from the previous changes or there could be things that did not deliver as anticipated that can be reviewed and ‘fixed’.
As an RTO your assessment must cover all of the requirements of the unit of competency, including Elements, Performance Criteria, Range Conditions and the new Assessment Requirements. While the Assessment Requirements can be downloaded (training.gov.au) as a separate document they are part of the complete unit of competency.
The Assessment Requirements comprise Performance Evidence, Knowledge Evidence and Assessment Conditions. The Performance Evidence and Knowledge Evidence sections are self-explanatory and go some way to defining the evidence that you need collect.
However, they do not specify the format or structure that evidence should take. The specific evidence requirements need to be decided by you the RTO, for example, how measurements should be made and recorded or how the potential solutions should be evaluated.
This enables you to identify how these activities are typically undertaken in a sector or business and use these within your assessment processes and evidence collection.
The evidence of measuring and recording resource usage could be generated from activities such as energy, transport and water audits; mass and energy balancing; and life cycle analysis or analysis of energy data from records, such as invoices, production reports or the accounting system.
There are different ways to evaluate potential improvements. A benefit/cost analysis will often be appropriate but the business or the work area might have specific criteria for benefits and costs. One benefit criteria might be aligned to reaching the target; another might be that it fits within the available budget or human resources allocation.
The unit refers to compliance with environmental regulations and these may differ; for some sectors and businesses there will be voluntary covenants, standards and codes of practice which should be included as well.
The Assessment Conditions define the conditions that must apply to the assessment process, for example, the collection of performance evidence:
- should occur over a range of situations
- will typically include a supervisor/third-party report focusing on consistent performance and problem recognition and solving. A supervisor/third-party report must be prepared by someone who has a direct, relevant, current relationship with the person being assessed and who is in a position to form a judgement on workplace performance relevant to the unit of competency
- will typically include the use of appropriate tools, equipment and documents
- may use industry-based simulation for all or part of the unit particularly where safety, lack of opportunity or significant cost is an issue.
They also provide outline how the assessor can meet the requirements for vocational competency and currency:
- Technical competence can be demonstrated through:
- relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment AND/OR
- relevant workplace experience
- Currency can be demonstrated through:
- performing the competency being assessed as part of current employment OR
- having consulted with an organisation providing relevant environmental monitoring, management or technology services about performing the competency being assessed within the last twelve months.
Most units of competency require some skills that are ‘embedded’ or assumed. These are required within the unit but are not spelled out in the elements or performance criteria or range statement.
In this unit they include:
- project management
- managing work practices and procedures
- quality assurance
- continuous improvement.
You need to take these into consideration in planning your resources and delivery. You will need to determine whether participants already have these skills or whether you need to cover them in your training and skills development activities and your resource materials.
Assessment of the embedded skills is a given; they must be assessed because they form part of the unit. In other words, if the unit is assessed correctly it will automatically include an assessment of these embedded skills.
If the embedded skills can not be demonstrated additional training, mentoring or other skills development activities might be required. In some cases these might align to other units of competency.
In developing a training and assessment strategy you need to customise a program and decide which units to package into your program and whether to group any units for delivery and assessment. You might want to cluster units; or you might want to integrate the content into modules or learning objects.
How (and whether) you group the units will vary depending on the needs of the participant, the needs and goals of the business, and how it operates.
Depending on the context, MSMENV472 Implement and monitor environmentally sustainable work practices could be clustered or integrated with the two other core units in the Certificate IV in Sustainable Operations. There is some overlap between the three units, but they do have a different focus and outcomes.
MSMENV472 Implement and monitor environmentally sustainable work practices has a narrower sustainability focus (specifically resource usage) compared to MSS014001 Improve sustainability through readily implementable change and MSS014002 Evaluate sustainability impact of a work or process area which both cover all aspects of sustainability.
MSMENV472 is also somewhat narrower in its focus on work practices, whereas MSS014001 Improve sustainability through readily implementable change can include broader operational issues, and MSS014002 Evaluate sustainability impact of a work or process area encompasses more complex expensive projects.