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Guide to Implementing an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

With international pressure on compliance with environmental management regulations, no enterprise can still operate without meeting compliance requirements of ISO 14001. Even if the firm is not certified, every effort should be made to ensure compliance, as international trading partners and customers want the assurance that the companies they support take responsibility for their actions.

 

Resources are becoming scarce and the impact of the human footprint on the planet has reached a critical point. As such, any organisation not committed to minimising the impact on the environment will suffer from the results of a negative image.

 

Implementing an ISO 14001 compliant environmental management system shows commitment to the responsible management of resources, improvement in the environment and safety of people, plants and animals.

 

The standard has been widely adopted by enterprises operating in various sectors, regardless of the company sizes, to reduce the risk of incidents that can affect the environment. Compliance also ensures that the organisations are able to meet statutory requirements for environmental management in their various countries.

 

What is a Management System?

 

It is basically a system that provides a framework in which to manage resources, people and processes. In relation to ISO 14001, this system is focussed on environmental management. However, compliance with ISO 9001 and other ISO management system requirements is easier when an integrated approach is followed.

 

With such in mind, the ISO standards have been designed specifically to facilitate integration into a single management system without compromising on any of the standards. This helps to reduce effort, cost and risk in managing compliance with the various standards.

 

ISO 14001 follows a systematic approach to the improvement of environmental impact management. Compliance demonstrates a commitment to setting up and managing processes and procedures, reviewing of such, and ongoing improvement of the above to ensure optimal compliance.

 

How to Succeed with Implementation

 

It is essential for top management to be involved in the setting up, implementing and managing of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. The senior management must be involved throughout the process, including the setting up of reviewing systems, drafting of policies and procedures, and communicating such to employees on all levels.

 

Conduct a GAP analysis of your organisation’s review systems, documentation processes, controls and implementation to determine shortcomings. You will be surprised. In most instances, your organisation may already comply. With such, you can address the areas in which improvement must be made, rather than reinventing the wheel. It will certainly help you to save on the costs of implementation. We recommend that you make use of our expertise in this regard.

 

Communication is key to the success of the implementation process. Create the necessary communication channels to ensure involvement of all employees and keep them informed throughout. Do away with any silos. Departments must work together towards the common goal of ISO 14001 compliance. With such, it is imperative that the same systems are used throughout. Decisions affecting the organisation cannot be made in isolation.

 

Make sure that everyone understands their roles and accountability. You cannot blame an employee for non-compliance if the employee didn’t understand what was expected.

 

Use technology to your advantage to manage the documentation processes more efficiently. The more complex the enterprise operations, the more comprehensive and complex documentation will be. For this reason, software or cloud-based management of the system can help to avoid duplication, mistakes and delays.

 

Motivate staff members to ensure compliance with incentive programmes, since it is essential that the entire organisation stays on the same page. Try to make the process fun to ensure a positive attitude amongst staff members.

 

Conduct internal audits to determine shortcomings on a departmental, individual and organisational level. For this, you will need to enrol employees in internal audit training and some to lead the internal audits. We can also assist in the above.

 

Make sure that your key employees are well trained in all aspects of ISO 14001, including regulatory requirements, implementation and auditing. We offer a full range of courses to empower the key employees with the necessary knowledge and skills.

 

Don’t just implement the management system for the sake of complying with the standard. If done right, it will lead to lowering of waste and costs, improve productivity and profitability, and reduce your environmental risk considerably.