Every firm engages in environmental interactions, and those interactions almost certainly involve compliance requirements that have been created by governmental bodies, municipal authorities, consumers, or trade associations. Therefore, assessing the organization’s compliance on a regular basis, reporting the findings to top management, and creating plans of action to address any noncompliance issues that are found are crucial components of any environmental management system.
What are the requirements for ISO 14001 compliance?
Laws and regulations, as well as voluntary requirements included in contracts or codes of conduct, as well as expectations of interested parties, are all considered compliance duties by ISO 14001. Once a company decides to adopt voluntary requirements, they become legally binding.
Identification and adherence to all applicable compliance duties are necessary for the implementation of an Environmental Management System and ISO 14001 Certification. This criterion is so crucial that top management makes a public commitment to it in a document known as the Environmental Policy.
Organizations must ascertain whether certain compliance duties apply. Therefore, the firm must decide how it interacts with the environment after evaluating its compliance duties. This is accomplished by identifying environmental factors to confirm which compliance duties are relevant.
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Compliance obligations’ scope of application
Some compliance requirements are universally applicable; if an organization finds a specific environmental factor, it is immediately applicable. As an illustration, if a company discharges industrial wastewater, that discharge must be allowed by a license from a competent authority, and the effluent’s quality must meet the standards set forth by either general regulations or a specific license. The organization’s compliance duties are not applicable if it does not produce industrial wastewater.
The volumes involved will determine any further compliance requirements. For instance, in some nations, if an annual threshold for the use of electricity or solvents is exceeded, a set of regulations and obligations become applicable; but, if the threshold is not reached, these obligations do not apply.
What is a compliance assessment?
Comparing compliance obligations, requirements, and an organization’s real status over time is the goal of a compliance evaluation. An organization must maintain an up-to-date list of compliance duties and compliance obligations requirements in order to accomplish this.
Before translating compliance duties into a collection of precise requirements known as compliance obligations requirements, you must first determine whether they are applicable. For instance, in some nations, an organization is only subject to compliance requirements regarding volatile organic compounds if it operates in specific economic sectors and if its yearly consumption exceeds a set threshold.
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You can begin building a picture of the current situation once you have determined the compliance obligations: Does your company follow the rules established by its compliance obligations?
The response will certainly be yes in some circumstances. In other instances, the response will be a no or only partial compliance, such as when comparing last year’s electricity consumption with the threshold level in the regulation to see if the organization is still on the non-applicable side, or when verifying that the industrial wastewater discharging license is still valid and quality parameters are adhered to.
According to ISO 14001:2015, all instances of complete or partial non-compliance must be eradicated and changed into a state of compliance through a series of measures in order to uphold the commitment stated in the Environmental Policy. The organization’s working style and reality will change as a result of the efforts taken to put into place a state of compliance. Internal auditing is one method of evaluating the success of those measures (clause 9.2). An internal audit, however, is always founded on a sample. An enterprise having an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO 14001:2015 must conduct a systematic compliance evaluation to get a full picture of the situation regarding the compliance requirements (clause 9.1.2). Only sampling will not sufficient; all compliance duties must be examined. Someone who is knowledgeable about compliance requirements should perform this verification process. This verification process is carried out by a compliance officer in some firms; in others, it is carried out by the environmental manager or even the quality manager.