Environmental Management Systems

Written by Shirley Parker
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An Environmental Management System (EMS) is encompassed by the group of standards known as ISO 14000. For companies to implement EMS, they need an environmental policy that is enforced by top management, not just proclaimed to lower echelons and the media. Many environmental aspects need to be identified, including impacts of the proposed policy, legal requirements, goals, role definitions, training, communication, documentation, and emergency procedures.

To get a new program up and running, an effective characteristic is that everyonein the company is going to participate. Next, a good program encourages looking ahead and acting from initiative, not waiting for orders to come from on high before any changes are made for the better. If only other beneficial programs in our society could work the same way! Without vision, the people perish; but without grassroots input, leaders soon wonder where their followers have gone. Employees' ideas are valuable and every possible way should be found to incorporate them.

Of great importance is that the EMS program apply to every department in the company. There can't be one set of rules for sales and marketing, another for tech support and customer service, and still another for office support, housekeeping, and parking security. Follow-up steps would include monitoring and measuring, correcting non-compliance and discovering the reasons for it, record keeping, auditing, and management review.

Benefits of an Environmental Management System

Benefits are many and include a safer, healthier place to work and live, while preserving and/or recycling resources. Economic benefits add up over the long term, due to fewer accidents, lower insurance costs, and less waste of supplies. Report writing to government agencies is reduced and paperwork in general is less of a headache. Lower costs associated with cleanup and disposal help the bottom line, too. And it wouldn't hurt to have fewer local, state, or federal inspectors dropping in.

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