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Celebrating World Environment Day: Top Tips for Environmental Management

In 2018 World Environment Day takes place on 5 June. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people and organisations across to the world to think about – and take action – to preserve and improve our environment for generations to come.

NEBOSH is the proud holder of ISO 14001, the global environmental management standard. We’re committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities.

Here’s some of our top tips for improving environmental management in your organisation:

  1. Remember the environment!
    Make sure environmental issues are taken into account in all business decisions. For example, if you’re about to introduce a new process, you should consider the potential environmental impact.
  2. Appoint a senior environmental champion
    Having someone with environmental responsibilities at board/senior level will help ensure environmental issues are taken seriously by the business. They can also help you to achieve point 1.
  3. Assign roles and responsibilities
    Everyone should be involved in environmental management; the roles should be clearly defined, and documented if possible.  It is also helpful to have a dedicated team in place to champion and facilitate activities.

    NEBOSH has found it useful to have a ‘Green Team’ to take on the running of our environmental management system. The team is made up of volunteers who do this alongside their day jobs – environmental management doesn’t have to take up lots of time or money. Having a dedicated team also means employees know who to approach with questions or suggestions. 
  4. Recognise and document your organisation’s environmental aspects
    Aspects are defined in ISO 14001 as ‘an element of organisation’s products, activities or services that has or may have an impact on the environment’.

    You should have plans in place to manage these aspects and carry out regular reviews to identify new aspects or changes to existing ones. 
  5. Identify compliance obligations
    This could legislation specifically related to your industry or other standards which your organisation chooses to comply with. For example, best practice, ISO management systems.

    Identify and document compliance obligations and state why they do/do not apply to your organisation. It’s important to recognise that legislation exists even if it does not apply at this time – for example, the Environmental Permitting Regulations would not apply to a low risk service industry. 
  6. Develop a policy
    Having an environmental policy is a positive step towards good environmental management.  If you organisation doesn’t already have a policy, it is very worthwhile producing one; it will state how you plan to reduce your impact on the environment and will demonstrate your commitment to potential suppliers, customers and other stakeholders.

    NEBOSH’s environmental policy is available to download here: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/fileupload/upload/FR049%20(previously%20ST043)%20NEBOSH%20Environmental%20Policy%20v6%20June%2017%20%20190617%20par.211201740959.pdf
  7. Identify risks and opportunities
    It’s really important to understand the risks and opportunities associated with environmental management and the organisation’s compliance obligations and aspects; you will need to develop plans to manage them.

    This activity will make sure environmental issues are included in business planning; threats to the environmental management system may not be classed as significant in overall business planning but it is important that they are considered.  
  8. Engage your workforce
    As a minimum you should make sure that the whole workforce is aware of the organisation’s environmental aspects. However, going beyond this will enthuse the workforce and encourage them to take part in activities to improve the organisation’s environmental performance. 

    For example, NEBOSH has run a number of campaigns on environmental management.  By far the most successful, was our campaign to replace plastic drinking cups with drinking glasses (made from recycled glass).  Encouraging these behaviours in the workplace will, hopefully, inspire workers to take these good practices home with them.  
  9. Set objectives
    These should relate to your identified aspects (point 4). For example, reduce gas consumption by 2% over the year. Make sure you monitor progress against these targets so you can take action if things aren’t going to plan.

    Try to make sure your targets are SMART:
    o Specific
    o Measurable
    o Achievable/agreed
    o Realistic
    o Timebound
  10. Put control measures in place
    These will help you to manage the environmental aspects and achieve your objectives. Control measures may be either management related e.g. documented processes or physical controls such as water treatment before waste water leaves the site. 

For more information about NEBOSH’s qualifications please visit: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/Qualifications/

Organisations interested in attaining ISO 14001 can find more information on the ISO website: https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html