Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Steps to Implementing ISO 14001:2004

ISO 14001 provides a logical, common-sense approach for
businesses to adopt. To start it is recommended to carry out an
environmental review of the business and the Annex to the Standard
provides guidance on the approach required. The Standard then
requires a management system to be developed that addresses the
key environmental issues that were identified by the review as being
relevant to the business, through a rational programme of control and
continual improvement.
There are five key steps to ISO 14001 EMS implementation, and
subsequent operation which are clearly laid out in just three pages of
The five key steps are:
1. Environmental Policy
2. Planning
3. Implementation and Operation
4. Checking and Corrective Action
5. Management Review
Step 1. Environmental Policy
The company or organisation must write an environmental policy
statement which is relevant to the business activities and approved by
top management. Their full commitment is essential if environmental
management is to work. The ISO 14001 Standard clearly sets out
what to cover in the policy. Often a one page document is sufficient.
Produce a first issue and expect to amend it several times before
assessment and registration as knowledge grows in the company.
Step 2. Planning
Plan what the EMS is to address.
Environmental aspects
First make lists of the environmental aspects (issues) that are relevant
to the business. The environmental review mentioned earlier should
provide most of this information and the Annex to ISO 14001 provides
guidance on the format for doing this.
Consider the inputs, outputs and processes/activities of the business in
relation to;
a) emissions to air
b) releases to water
c) waste management
d) contamination of land
e) use of raw materials and natural resources
f) other local environmental and community issues
Consider both site (direct) and offsite (ie. indirect) aspects that you
control or have influence over (such as suppliers) and in relation to
normal operations, shut-down and start-up conditions and reasonably
foreseeable and emergencies situations.
A simple written procedure is then required to determine which of the
aspects identified are really or probably significant (important) and
training needs, outline the key stages of the project and dates that will
lead to the target achievement).
Gradually apply environmental management programme thinking to
such things as the introduction of new products, new or improved
processes and other key activities of the business. In particular,
ensure existing projects become environmental management projects
where there is a significant environmental impact involved, so that the
EMS becomes company wide. This is a frequent oversight found
during ISO 14001 assessments. The EMS must cover the whole
business – like a net thrown over the whole business and for example
including such things as engineering and maintenance
Step 3. Implementation and Operation
Structure and responsibility
Appoint one or more people, depending on the size of the business, to
have authority and responsibility for implementing and maintaining the
EMS and provide sufficient resources. (It’s worth monitoring costs
carefully and benchmarking these against key consumption figures so
that improvements delivered by the EMS become apparent).
Training, awareness and competence
Implement a procedure to provide environmental training appropriate
to identified needs for management, the general workforce, project
teams and key plant operators. This can have far reaching benefits
on employee motivation. The workforce is usually very supportive of
moves to achieve genuine environmental improvement. Every
company has its share of cynics but even some of these can be won
over with time. Training will vary from a general briefing for the
workforce to detailed environmental auditor training.
Implement procedures to establish a system of internal and external
communication to receive environmental information and respond to it
and to circulate new information to people that need to know. This will
include: new legislation, information from suppliers, customers and
neighbours and communications both with employees and for
employees about progress with the EMS. This process can often
generate worthwhile ideas from employees themselves for future
environmental improvements.
Environmental management system documentation
The EMS itself needs to be documented with a manual, procedures
and work instructions but keep it brief and simple. The Standard
clearly states where procedures are required. Eleven system
procedures are required to maintain the EMS, plus operating work
instructions but if you already have ISO 9000, this will cover most of six
of the procedures required and a quality system can certainly be
expanded to cover ISO 14001 as well. Cross reference the EMS
manual to other environmental and quality documents to link the EMS
and to integrate it with existing business practices.
Operational control
Implement additional operating procedures (work instructions) to
control the identified significant (important) aspects of production
processes and other activities. Some of these will already exist but
may need a ‘bit of polish’. Don’t forget significant aspects that relate to
goods and services from suppliers and contractors.
Emergency preparedness and response
Implement procedures to address reasonably foreseeable
emergencies and to minimise their impact should they occur. (eg. Fire,
major spillages of hazardous materials, explosion risks etc.)
Step 4. Checking and Corrective Action
Monitoring and measurement
Implement procedures to monitor and measure the progress of
projects against the targets which have been set, the performance of
processes against the written criteria using calibrated equipment (verify
monitoring records) and regularly check (audit) the company’s
compliance with legislation that has been identified as relevant to your
business. The most effective way of doing this is through regular
progress meetings.
Nonconformance and corrective and preventive action
Implement procedures to enable appropriate corrective and
subsequent preventive action to be taken where breaches of the EMS
occur (eg. process control problems, delays in project process, noncompliance
with legislation, incidents etc.).
Implement procedures to keep records generated by the
environmental management system. The Annex to the Standard
suggests those that are likely to be required.
Environmental management system audit
Implement a procedure to carry out audits of each part of the EMS and
company activities and operations to verify both compliance with the
EMS and with ISO 14001. Audit results must be reported to top
management . A typical audit cycle is one year but more critical
activities will require auditing more frequently.
Step 5. Management Review
At regular intervals (typically annual), top management must conduct
through meetings and record minutes of a review of the EMS, to
determine that it is still appropriate and effective or to make changes
where necessary. Top management will need to consider audit
results, project progress, changing circumstances and the requirement
of ISO 14001 for continual improvement, through setting and achieving
further environmental targets.


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  2. The five key steps are very useful and good explantion.
    Thanks sharing.

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