Clause 6.1.3 of ISO 14001:2015 requires top management to determine and have access to the compliance obligations related to its environmental aspects; but what exactly are these compliance obligations? And what’s the most effective way to define these for your Environmental Management System (EMS)?
What are the EMS Compliance obligations that ISO 14001:2015 requires you to define?
Compliance obligations can arise from mandatory requirements, such as applicable laws and regulations, or voluntary commitments, such as organisational and industry standards, contractual relationships, codes of practice and agreements with community groups or non-governmental organisations.
The requirement to comply with Environmental compliance obligations, also expressed as legal requirements, occurs no less than 50 times in various clauses of the ISO 14001:2015 standard including:
- 4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties… which of these needs and expectations become your compliance obligations.
- 5.2 Environmental policy… includes a commitment to fulfil your compliance obligations
- 6.2.1 Environmental objectives... establish environmental objectives considering significant environmental aspects and associated compliance obligations.
- 7.2 Competence … determine the necessary competence of person(s) doing work under your control that affects your environmental performance and your ability to fulfil your compliance obligation
- 7.3 Awareness… of the implications of not conforming with the environmental management system requirements, including not fulfilling your compliance obligations.
- 9.1.2 Evaluation of compliance… establish, implement, and maintain the processes needed to evaluate fulfilment of your compliance obligations.
Examples of ISO 14001 Environmental Compliance obligations for your EMS
Listing relevant compliance obligations in a legal register within your Environmental Management System will help you determine how the requirements apply and what controls are in place to manage the requirement. Here’s a few examples of what you could include in your legal register:
Sets 2050 as the target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; outlines a carbon budgeting system, greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes, financial incentives for businesses to reduce waste and recycle more and powers to charge for single use bags.
Applicable to the management of all non-domestic buildings defining; statutory duties, requirements for asbestos company licencing and HSE notification, maintenance of health surveillance and competence (asbestos awareness training) for personnel at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within the workplace.
The Act provides local authorities with more effective powers to tackle poor environmental quality and anti-social behaviour. In particular the Act includes sections on nuisance and abandoned vehicles, litter, graffiti, waste, noise and dogs.
Environmental obligations relating of production of products should be embedded into your product and service specifications. Other legal requirements to consider in your ISO 14001 legal register may include regulations relating to emergency preparedness and response such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Maintaining your ISO 14001 Environmental Legal register
The introduction of new legislation or changes to existing legislation should be identified and communicated to relevant employees as soon as possible. As an Environmental manager you’ll need to:
- Determine whether a piece of amended legislation, or new legislation is relevant to your EMS
- Determine how the requirements apply and what controls are in place to manage the requirement
- Determine that the organization is compliant with the legislation
- Undertake periodic reviews of Environmental legal requirements to ensure continued compliance of your Environmental Management System.
How Legal Compliance Manager Software can help you maintain your ISO 14001 EMS legal register
One of the easiest ways to maintain your Environmental legal register is to use software such as the ISOvA Legal Compliance Manager, which provides you with a list of over 240 UK statutory and regulatory requirements.
Simply review questions such as ‘Do you sell to consumers?’ or ‘Do you employ people?’ to identify if the legislation is relevant to your organisation. Clicking on ‘further information’ will take you to a webpage that explains the purpose of the requirement with examples of evidence required - See Step 2: Legal Register for further information.
The ISOvA Legal Compliance Manager ensures that your EMS automatically updates with the latest Environmental legislations or changes to existing legislations. ISOvA also provides a free legal updates newsletter with a summary of those changes.