Applicable Standard: ISO14001: 2015 (Environmental Management System)
ISO 14001 is a systematic framework to manage the immediate and far reaching impacts of an organisation’s products, services and processes from an environmental perspective. After achieving an ISO 14001 certification, the applicant will be able to give the confidence to their customers that the organisation's environmental management system meets the relevant environmental standards as applicable to the specific sector/ industry.
The Environmental Policy provides a brief description of your organisation’s commitment to take responsible measures towards the effects on the larger environment and any regional/ national/ international legislative requirements. The policy should be formulated keeping in mind the necessary commitment to reduce air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and any other types of pollutants like radioactive elements, plastic waste, etc and to continually improve the way your business seeks to deliver upon its environmental objectives.
Operational Control Procedures
The ISO 14001 environmental standard requires organisations to have a clearly defined objective and execute its day-to-day operational controls in a manner appropriate to the industry it operates in. Specifically, ISO does not have a guideline to prescribe those controls or any recommendations or suggestions as to how they should be implemented, but you do need to keep documented evidence to prove that your operational controls ensure that:
- Legal and compliance requirements are being met at national regional and global level
- Environmental goals have been rightly assessed, defined and communicated
- In-house and external monitoring processes are in place for regular as well as outsourced or subcontracted activities
- Requirements for training and personnel awareness have been assessed, reviewed and are being followed up with a plan of implementation.
Competence, Awareness & Training Procedure
If the nature of your business necessitates the use of an oil storage container facility, the ISO auditor may ask to see the operational control procedures being followed while filling the container or whether all the environmental concerns are being addressed during fuel transfer operations at the tanker. Documented procedures and staff training methods for cleaning up oil spills would also be verified. If your organisation deals with sea water desalination plants, the work instructions and training needed to operate the water purification plant should be made available. For a newbie organisation, implementing an Environmental Management System often requires a few drastic changes to the work methodologies or job requirements, and so can often require some amount of additional training. Recording the training and competence levels of every staff member and key members of organisation will make it easier to track the need for additional trainings. It will also ensure that every employee in your organisation is competent to handle their EMS responsibilities.
What is an environmental aspects and impacts register?
The ideal beginning is to create and maintain an environmental aspects and impacts register and note down the key controls that are in place for all of the environmental aspects. Environmental aspect is a resource that we use, utilise in the course of organisational or business conduct, that may result in consumption, discharge, emission or any kind of alteration to the natural earth, simply referred to as environment. This may include emissions of greenhouse gases, use of fossil fuels, consumption of natural resources or anything that may create global warming or affect regional climate change. Impact refers to the attribution of effect to the cause of activities. For instance, the heating and ventilation system has an impact on the quality of natural air. The use of water in manufacture of products with fluid or liquid composition (Eg: Cola, soft drink beverages, alcohol, packaged drinking water) has an impact on water resources. Construction has an impact on land resources, and use of electricity or gas will have an impact on non-renewable energy.
The easiest method to comply with these requirements is to draw up a document in the form of a spreadsheet, to document the Aspect its Impact and then formulate a scoring system. The EMS Impact register can also include the most prominent legal requirements and the internal controls that are being maintained. If those controls are not present at project and activity level, it's never too late to start!