WasteStrategies

4 Red Flags in an Environmental Management System Audit

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Courtesy of WasteStrategies

Is your environmental management system working for you or are you working for it?

An all-too-common approach to running an environmental management system (EMS) is a procedural, documentation-oriented approach where the mere existence of EMS procedures makes an organization falsely believe they have an effective program. In fact, this procedural-documentation approach often does little more that bog down the organization with little in the way of real outcomes.

When we go into an organization to assess its EMS we look for red flags which time and again point to a failed or less-than-ideal system. Here are 4 of the most common red flags:

1. Lack of Management Commitment and Accountability

Are important environmental issues and objectives on the management’s radar screen? Environmental programs need to be important to the business, from the top, or you’ll find yourself chasing the wind.

2. Lack of Effective Risk Assessments

How effective are the organization’s risk assessments? Are they being done at all? Does the organization have an environmental aspects list? Understanding true environmental impacts requires an effective risk assessment. Without it, you’re left shooting in the dark.

3. Failure to Problem Solve

A robust corrective and preventative action system, triggered by a solid system of identifying nonconformance, is the hallmark of an effective problem-solving EMS. To the degree that this program is robust drives the maturity and effectiveness of a program. The point is, if an organization is lacking a disciplined approach to solving problems, they’re probably not solving problems. And that’s a clear red flag.

4. Information Fails to Travel Full Circle

How well does information from the system get back up into management’s face? This red flag points back to number one: If management is driving one set of goals and the environmental staff is driving another set of goals, the organization is not in sync and the EMS is bound to fail. Comprehensive risk assessments, information from the field concerning non-conformances, and effective root cause countermeasures all need to be collected and driven back into management’s hands where they can set goals.

Together, these four red flags can tell us whether an organization’s EMS is headed in the right direction. How well would your organization’s EMS fare against a real-world audit? We invite you to reach out to us and schedule a time to review your program goals and challenges.

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