NQA EMS Handbook

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handbook for ISO 14001

Text of NQA EMS Handbook

  • t: 08000 522 424 e: ems@nqa.com w: nqa.com

    Managing yourenvironmental footprint

    guide to implementing an environmental management system

  • 1ems@nqa.com

    Introduction to environmental management systems (EMS) 2

    Benefits of implementing an EMS 5

    Correspondance with other standards 6

    How to use this guide 8

    Definitions 9

    Principles of ISO 14001 12

    Initial Environmental Review 14

    Environmental management system elements 17

    4.1 - General requirements 17

    4.2 - Environmental policy 18

    4.3 - Planning 22

    4.4 - Implementation and operation 38

    4.5 - Checking 53

    4.6 - Management review 62

    Registration to environmental management systems 65

    Reference list 70


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    The concept of environmental management within businesshas evolved rapidly in recent years and pressure is beingplaced upon organisations more and more to mitigate anyadverse impact that their business may have on theenvironment, when this is further enforced by stringentenvironmental legislation, it makes it increasingly difficult toignore such issues.

    In a climate of increased media and public scrutiny, organisationsof all sizes are now looking to formal management systems as aframework for improving performance.

    The concept of environmental management systems (EMS)has spread across the world and through all sectors.

    Many early environmental management systems were developed alongside quality management and took on many of the characteristic elements of the quality standard,ISO 9001. However, these systems were often developed in-house and did not independently demonstrate that organisations were doing what they stated in their policy statements. This led to the creation of some of the first standardised environmental systems.

    However, it was not until 1992 that a nationally-recognisedand universally-applicable standard was produced. This was published by the British Standards Institute and entitled BS 7750 Specification for Environmental ManagementSystems. It also took a quality systems approach toenvironmental management and was centred on the Deming Cycle - plan, do, check and act. The standard also allowed,for the first time, external and independent assessment of the system to ensure organisations met the requirements of the standard.

    As the worlds first environmental management standard, BS 7750 raised considerable interest in the United Kingdom,but more importantly, in many other countries around the

    world. This eventually led to calls for an internationally-recognised standard. The International Organisation forStandardisation (ISO) responded to these demands bysetting up a working group to develop a new set ofenvironmental standards (the ISO 14000 series), which couldbe implemented by all types of organisations, regardless oftheir activity or location.

    The European Commission also responded to the increasedinterest in environmental management systems by developingthe Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), for manufacturing companies within the European Union.

    ISO 14001

    In 1996, the first of the international EMS standards (ISO14001 and ISO 14004) were published. These standards laiddown specifications and guidance for the development of an environmental management system, which could be auditedand certified by independent certification bodies. These standards eventually superseded BS 7750 in the UK.

    The adoption of the international environmental managementsystem (EMS) standard ISO 14001 can be a complementarydevice for adhering to the extensive environmental legislativerequirements and bring benefits to businesses, which include aprofitable difference to the bottom line.

    On 15th November 2004, the revision process of ISO14001:1996 was completed and ISO 14001:2004 waspublished. The changes to the standard were aimed atmaking it more user friendly and to clarify some of therequirements. It also brings it into line with some of theclauses with ISO 9001:2000.

    ISO 14004:2004 Environmental Management Systems General guidelines on principles, systems and supporttechniques was also published on 15th November 2004.

    Introduction to Environmental Management Systems

  • 3ISO 14001 is now the most widely-used environmentalmanagement standard in the world. The ISO Surveyreported that, as of December 2005, there were over 6,055organisations certified in the UK and an estimated 111,162worldwide in 138 countries. These figures are set to increaseas many more companies realise the considerable benefitsthat can be gained from taking a more systematic approachto environmental improvement.

    BS 8555/ Acorn

    In 2003, a new environmental management system standardwas published. BS 8555 enables environmental managementsystems (EMS) to be accessible to all and the IEMA AcornScheme allows recognition for implementation and operationat certain phases. BS 8555 provides guidance on how totackle environmental performance evaluation andimprovement, it makes EMS simple and easy. BS 8555 is titledEnvironmental management systems Guide to the phasedimplementation of an environmental management systemincluding the use of environmental performance evaluation.

    It seeks to provide guidance for all organisations who areseeking to implement a formal environmental managementsystem, for example ISO 14001 or the EU Eco-Managementand Audit Scheme (EMAS). BS 8555 makes particularreference to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) andoutlines a phased implementation process for EMS.

    The standard focuses on environmental performance controland is broken down into six manageable phases. Thesephases can be tackled incrementally at a pace that suits theorganisation. Each phase is then broken down into a series ofmanageable stage profiles. Following through all the phasescould lead an organisation to being in a position to beassessed against ISO 14001 or EMAS.

    It is ideal for small to medium sized organisations with a lowto moderate risk to the environment. In such cases, it maynot be necessary to move through all the phases. If anorganisation requires control of their environmental impacts

    and risks rather than a full EMS based on ISO 14001,recognition through the IEMA Acorn Scheme at Phase 3 willgive customers and the public confidence that theorganisation are focused on controlling their environmentalrisks including ensuring compliance with legal requirementsand developing objectives and targets but will not place anunnecessary burden on the organisation.

    The different phases are:

    Phase 1 Commitment and establishing the baseline,

    Phase 2 Identifying and ensuring compliance with legal and other requirements,

    Phase 3 Developing objectives, targets and programmes,

    Phase 4 Implementation and operation of the EMS,

    Phase 5 Checking, audit and review,

    Phase 6 Environmental Management System acknowledgement.

    The main benefits of this incremental approach is that itoffers flexibility and the implementation and registration can proceed at a rate that takes into account the many other pressures and demands that will be facing anorganisation.

    The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment(IEMA) Acorn Scheme has been developed to provide ameans of recognising those organisations that evaluate andimprove their environmental management and performancethrough the phased approach. The scheme allows suchorganisations to gain recognition for their environmentalachievements along the way. The scheme requires theparticipants to implement a management system to meet theachievement criteria and stage profiles of the phases of BS 8555.A system of independent inspection has been established toprovide this recognition; such organisations are called Acorn


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    Inspection Bodies and are accredited by the United KingdomAccreditation Service (UKAS).

    Many large organisations have started to require theirsuppliers to demonstrate good environmental management.Acorn Scheme recognition could be used as a tool by an organisation to demonstrate this. Acorn/BS 8555 canalso be used to help to develop relationships with externalparties such as suppliers, regulators and the general public. The phased approach is flexible and provides direction at each stage.

    This route to environmental management also gives earlyindications of its effectiveness as it measures environmentalperformance from day one. By charting progress, it is easier for the management of an organisation to visualise and to plan resources and costs. It also allows for greater employee involvement and can increase staff morale. BS 8555also requires commitment to realistic timescales forenvironmental improvements.

    An organisation can become registered to any phase withinthe Acorn Scheme up to and including level 5. Beyond level5, organisations should seek EMAS or ISO 14001 registration.To become registered to the Acorn Scheme, NQA willinspect the organisations environmental management systemagainst the stage profiles within the relevant phases of BS 8555 to ensure the achievement criteria laid down in BS 8555 have been met.

    EMAS Eco-Management and Audit Scheme

    The origins of EMAS lie in European Council Regulation1836/93, which allowed voluntary participation by industrialcompany sectors in a Community Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). This regulation was replaced by 761/2001 which now allows participation in the scheme by ALL organisations. The regulation requires EU MemberStates to form administrative structures for the scheme. In the UK, the Institute of Environmental Management and

    Assessment (IEMA) carries out this function as theCompetent Body'.

    The general aim of EMAS is to ensure that the EuropeanC