Here are five key elements that will help organizations reach a successful ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS):
1. Employee Involvement
The first key element for having a successful EMS is to achieve full participation of all employees, from top management to shop-floor workers. If people are not involved, every goal and target will require a lot more time and effort to be reached. Many believe that only a small group of people in an organization are responsible for the EMS but nothing is farther from the truth; the whole organization is responsible for the implementation, maintenance and improvement of the EMS.
2. Regulatory Compliance
One of the main objectives of an ISO 14001 EMS is for organizations to obtain regulatory compliance. Organizations need to use the EMS as a tool to effectively define and monitor applicable legal requirements and other requirements. By using the EMS as a tool for assuring regulatory compliance, an organization can better plan the expenses associated with permits, reporting and monitoring legal requirements, which will reduce the frequency and severity of violations and their associated costs.
3. Higher Efficiency
Organizations need to focus on improving the efficiency of their processes and not just on controlling environmental aspects after they have been generated. It’s essential to control and prevent contamination, but an ISO 14001 EMS needs to go beyond this point and focus on improving processes. For example, a higher level of administrative efficiency may reduce legal liabilities and shorter permitting procedures due to better relations with regulators and communities. A greater operational efficiency usually involves renewal of equipment or facilities, and an improved design of production processes that will result in a reduction of inputs (energy, water and other resources) and also a reduction of waste.
4. Using the Right Performance Indicators
Every organization is different and so are their environmental aspects and impacts. It is essential to define and use the performance indicators that will allow organizations to effectively monitor their performance and identify opportunities for improvement.
5. Improving Customer Relations
Organizations need to establish relationships based on trust and respect with regulatory bodies, communities and everyone that may affect their EMS. Good relationships with internal and external customers will contribute in the success of the ISO 14001 EMS.
It is important to remember that every EMS is different and a continuous monitoring process is essential in determining the organization’s progress in meeting its goals and objectives.