International Organization for standards defines environmental management system as that component of the overall management system within an organization that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, procedures, practices, and the required resources for establishing, implementing, obtaining, examining, and maintaining the environmental policy. Environmental management system enables private companies, the government, and other corporate organizations to establish and examine the effectiveness and efficiency of procedures to set environmental policy and objective, achieve compliance, and make demonstrations of such compliance to other corporate organizations. International standards covering environmental management system provide corporate organizations with the elements of environmental management system that can be incorporated into the organizational management structure, system, and function so as to enable them achieve environmental policy and organization’s goals and objectives (Tarasofsky, 1999).
The main goal of environmental management is to support the necessary protection to the environment to prevent pollution and ensure balanced social, economic, and political needs. In relation to this, there are international set standards within which organizations can effectively participate in the preservation of the environment and avoid environmental exploitation and pollution; however, the international standard does not set out absolute standard formulate absolute requirements for the expected environmental performance beyond commitment to compliance with legislations and regulations that are applicable to the process of environmental management (Tarasofsky, 1999). There are corporate organizations that make use of ISO 14001 to enhance their competitiveness in both domestic and the global or foreign market; these are particularly privately owned corporate organizations. In view of these, this paper will examine Environmental Management System registration process. It examines the necessary requirements for registration in order to be approved of being compliant to all the procedures of environmental preservation and prevention of pollution as set out in ISO 14001.
Environmental Management System registration process
It is important to note that there are steps to follow when pursuing Environmental Management System registration. This process may be elaborate but important to every corporate organization that wants to demonstrate its commitment to environmental protection and prevent pollution as it pursues its social, economic, and political activities. It is also crucial to recognize the fact that the registration for environmental management system is provided by a number of organizations. In this case, we will describe registration process for ISO 14001. Under this certification, there are two options available to an organization: the first one is self declaration in which an organization reviews environmental management system in relation to the requirements of ISO 14001 and hence deems itself to be compliant with ISO 14001 standards. The second option, which is stricter than the first one, is done through registration by an independent registering body or organization that is accredited by a registration body. In this case, the registration process described is premised on the latter (Jackson, 1997).
Step one: Application
In order to make an application, an organization must first make a decision that it requires the ISO 14001 certification. The organization must put in place all requirements for effective and efficient environmental management system. It is after this that an organization can now consider applying for ISO 14001 certification or registration for that matter. According to varied registering bodies, the application process begins with the filling a given structured questionnaire in which the applying organization provides the necessarily required information.
During the application, there are a number of issues that are involved before moving on to the next step. One of the issues is the determination of the scope of environmental management system within an organization. The consideration of the scope may include operations within legally instituted environmental policy, operating with the extent of potential environmental threats and a given aspect of environmental concern (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
It is within this stage that the number of audit days that are required after a specific period is determined; the audit days are very significant in ensuring that the organization remains consistent or conforming to the international environmental standards as set out in the ISO 14001 guideline. Environmental management standards are also dynamic with time; this takes care of newly emerging environmental issues which may require some adjustment within the management system. In order to identify these dynamics and take appropriate action, frequent audit is very significant in the environmental management system; the auditing days are also crucial in monitoring the implementation and ensuring conformity to new environmental standards that may arise either at local or international level (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Assignment of lead auditors is one of the most significant parts of the application stage. The task of the lead auditor are determining whether or not the environmental management system conforms to the planned system of environmental management which also entails the internationally required environmental standards, the environmental management plan has been properly implemented and also avail information of the result of audits to the management for any necessary or further action. Due to all these tasks, the work of lead auditor cannot be underestimated in the environmental management process; in other words, in this stage, an organization applying for ISO 14001 registration must be able to demonstrate that it has in place lead auditors whose task will ensure the whole environmental management system conforms to the required standards, especially the internationally recognized standards (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Determination of additional services desired is also done in the application stage. The additional desired services may include baseline assessment, implementation guides, standards and publications, review of strategic management, integrated audit and training of staff members who will ensure the environmental management process is successful and conforms to the standards required (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Step two: Environmental Management System Documentation Review or desk audit
In this step, the organization applying for registration is required to produce a copy of environmental management system manual and policies to the registering organization or body. This manual is used by the registering body to determine the extent to which the registration applicant is conforming to the international required standards or the standards spelt out in ISO 14001 guideline. The lead auditor becomes very crucial in this step; in this case, the lead auditor conducts a complete review of environmental management system documentation. Besides, the lead auditor identifies the potential issues which could become nonconformance during the registration audit. So, the lead auditors in the second step are very important in terms of completing ISO 14001 registration process. First, they can uncover nonconformities that might lead to failure of an organization achieving an actual registration audit, second, they act as rehearsal trainers preparing the organization and its staff members for the actual registration audit and finally, if a registrar or registering organization has done a thorough examination of the organization’s internal audit records as part of its initial review process, and the registrar is absolutely impressed with the credentials of the internal audit team of the organization and the methodology by which the internal was performed in the process, then the registering body may decide to conduct a less exhaustive and less expensive audit of the organization’s facilities using a smaller audit team than it might have otherwise been necessary. This can save the organization some valuable time and money in the registration audit (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
The second step in the process of carrying out environmental managements system review. The environmental management system documentation normally is in the form of a manual that is availed throughout the organizational environmental management facility. This can be available either through electronic or hard copy. Documentation review is done due to some significant reason. One of the reasons for this review is to ensure consistency; it is argued that information relayed through word of mouth does not always achieve the level of consistency that is required within the environmental management system. Contrarily, it is argued that recorded information is most likely to achieve the required level of consistency. In order to maintain this consistency, documentation is very important. It is acknowledged that in a number of facilities change is part of life; new projects are initiated, the organizational facilities grow and employees of the organization change positions or altogether leave the organization. During these, some of which may be inevitable, consistency of information can only be ensured through careful documentation hence the need for review of environmental management system documentation review; the review is meant to ascertain that flow of information meets the required standards as set out in the ISO 14001 requirements (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Environmental management system review entails the verification of exposure of components required by the ISO 14001 standards. Moreover, environmental management system review, in conjunction with Onsite Readiness Review, is utilized in the determination of preparedness to continue with process of registration. In cases where some flaws are detected, the flaws are first corrected before registration can proceed (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Step three: On-site Environmental Management System Readiness Review
In this step of registration, a team of auditors get to meet the staff members of the applying organization and also goes around the organization’s facilities. It is in this step that the applicant’s staff members and the auditing team review desk audit report; furthermore, the audit team makes an evaluation on the aspects of identification and evaluation process. Again, the audit team conducts a thorough review of the set out procedures and the instructions with regards to the work required to be done. They also perform a review of the identified issues and causes of recommended actions. Finally, the audit team conducts an evaluation of environmental management system audit and review of management functions (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
In this stage, the organization’s situation is examined; in the process, determination is made in terms of environmental policy, objectives and targets, the applicable regulatory requirements given the organization’s operational process. Other things that are of concern in this stage are compliance history and when available, environmental management system audit report, environmental programs which include training, corrective action, monitoring and measurement; moreover, of great concern also are organizational charts showing the level of management, responsibilities and roles and procedures for continued review process, updates and improvement of the organization’s environmental management system (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Step four: On-site Registration Audit
This step repeats some of the tasks that had been performed in the earlier steps during internal audits. In this case, the audit team evaluates the implementation conformance and effectiveness of operations of the environmental management system. The question here is whether or not the environmental management system conforms to the environmental policies set out in the standards guide. Extensive interviews are conducted to evaluate the planning, implementation and operation checking and corrective measures. The audit team will work their way through the organization’s facilities in order to assess how its environmental management system has been incorporated through all aspects of the organizational operations that may have any form of environmental concerns. Again, in this step, it is determined whether the organization has proper, relevant, and adequate resources to effectively-carry out the environmental management system operations. The step involves thorough activities which are geared towards ensuring that the organization is well prepared to get ISO 14001 registration or certification (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Step five: Registration determination
In this step, recommendation is given in closing meeting. It is at this stage where recommendation is given either to register the organization immediately, register the organization after corrective measures have been implemented to correct any discrepancy or recommend of a repeat of on-site audit. It is important to note that the decision either to register or postpone registration is not done by the audit team; this is done according to the standard requirements of the accreditation organization or body. After registration, the certificate of registration is immediately issued to the applicant organization and its name is also immediately added to public register to reflect the organization’s commitment in following the internationally set environmental management standards. The registration certificate is valid upto a given period of time and is subject to renewal after the whole process of registration has been reviewed (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
Step six: Surveillance
This is the last step in the environmental management system registration process. To ensure that the registered organization continues to conform to the environmental management standards set out in the ISO 14001 guide, monitoring is done through regular surveillance audits that are carried out after a given period of time. It is crucial to point out that the surveillance audit is carried out the same way the registration audit is done. This step is said to be continuous once the organization has been granted a registration certificate by the ISO 14001 certification body. Surveillance audits are guided by surveillance audit schedule developed by the audit team members assigned after successful comprehensive registration audit. The main objective of the surveillance step is to ensure continued conformity to the standards under which the ISO 14001 was granted to the organization (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
The implementation process
In order to get the certification, it is important that the organization had certain resources within its facilities. Some of these resources were already available; however, the acquisition of other relevant and vital resources was very expensive in terms of time taken to acquire them and the financial implications. It was almost becoming impossible to meet some of the requirements since the auditing process was very thorough and close attention was given to very little details that had crucial environmental concerns (Bragança, 2007).
Meanwhile, it was not difficult getting the support of the employees because they all believed and believe in environmentally friendly operations. Being recognized as environmentally concerned organization is one of the most important thing to an organization and its employees who take pride in the same. Therefore, the employees were also ready to participate in the process and give their contributions which proved very important during the registration process. However, due to its elaborate process, some employees seemed to have lost their morale and partially withdrew from active participation in the registration process (Bragança, 2007).
With regards to difficulties in implementation, it is important to note that training of the employees to be able to help run the environmental management system and strategies proved a little bit difficult. The implementation time was short yet employees required time to effectively learn what ISO14001 standards required in terms of operations. Besides, implementing the new environmental policies as set out in the newly formulated environmental management system was also bit of a challenge; at the time of formulation, not every employee was aware of the demands of the environmental policy and hence this contributed to red-tapism in the implementation process, however, with time, the employees became aware of almost everything within the policy guidelines and soon things started working smoothly (Shyni, 2005).
The certification came in with a significant number of changes, some of which required immediate implementation. It therefore implies that the organization had to effect certain changes that would allow the integration of new environmental management system policies into the mainstream management structures and daily operations of the organization.
International Organization for standards defines environmental management system as that component of the overall management system within an organization that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, procedures, practices and the required resources for establishing, implementing, obtaining, examining and maintaining the environmental policy. The main goal of environmental management is to support the necessary protection to the environment to prevent pollution and ensure balanced social, economic, and political needs. In relation to this, the international standards set standards within which organizations can effectively participate in the preservation of the environment and avoid environmental exploitation and pollution; however, the international standard does not set out absolute standard formulate absolute requirements for the expected environmental performance beyond commitment to compliance with legislations and regulations that are applicable to the process of environmental management (Tarasofsky, 1999).
The registration process for an ISO 1401 goes through six steps. These steps include: step one in which application is done; step two involves environmental management system review otherwise referred to as desk-top audit; the third step is where On-site Environmental Management System Readiness Review; the fourth step entails On-site Registration Audit; and the fifth step is about registration determination (where the registering organization decides whether to register the applicant immediately, register the applicant after correctional measures have been taken care of or re-order for audit (Aurrichio & Woodside, 2000).
The implementation process was a bit difficult due to long time taken and the fact that the whole process had a lot of financial implications. Meanwhile, the success of the registration process can be attributed to the commitment of the employees who took pride in the certification initiative. Due to the certification, the company will have more financial commitment towards the environmental management system operations and also to fund all the periodic audits that will be carried out after certain period of time.
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Bragança, L. (2007). Portugal SB07 Sustainable Construction, Materials and Practices: Challenge of the Industry for the New Millennium. United States: IOS Press.
Jackson, S. (1997). The ISO 14001 implementation guide: creating an integrated management system. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.
Shyni, K. (2005). Change Management Vis–Vis Human Resource Management. New York: Discovery Publishing House.
Tarasofsky, R. (1999). Assessing the international forest regime. New York: IUCN.