In this article, we will learn more about requirement 7.3 – Awareness – and its importance regarding the environmental management system (EMS).
ISO 14001:2015 is an international standard that allows companies to show their commitment to the environment and concern for environmental impact.
We must always remember that this standard helps companies to identify and carry out, through its requirements, a more effective risk management.
It helps organizations that seek to assume environmental responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement, prevention and protection of the environment.
ISO 14001:2015 proposes the need to consider internal and external factors that influence the environmental impact. And that all employees are involved and informed about this environmental policy.
And it is with this point that requirement 7.3 of the standard deals with. It tells us about staff awareness of their responsibilities, company policies and performance according to the EMS.
So, let’s see what this standard requirement presents and how important it is to make your team aware of their responsibilities, especially environmental ones.
Importance of awareness in the organization
In this requirement, the standard explains that organizations need to clearly communicate the objectives of the company in order to create awareness in all people. So, one must be concerned with understanding whether everyone is aware of the responsibilities and consequences of non-compliance within the EMS.
As the norm itself shows, the company must ensure that everyone who works in the organization is aware of the following points:
a) Awareness: environmental policy
This requirement refers to how the company declares its intentions and commitment regarding actions in this regard conservation of the environment and guaranteeing the sustainable development of the planet.
It is the environmental policies that will indicate what are the main values of the organization when the issue of sustainability is considered.
This policy, when well implemented, is important to demonstrate to everyone the company’s commitment to environmental principles. And how they seek to find ways to minimize the impacts that are generated on the environment.
This must be something communicated across internal and external sectors, so that the entire team is committed and collaborates in meeting these requirements.
b) Significant environmental aspects and environmental impacts associated with their work:
It is important for everyone to be aware of the environmental aspects and impacts that are associated with their work within the organization.
Environmental aspects are related to all elements that can interact or generate changes to the environment. Very significant aspects can generate an equally significant environmental impact, for the environmental impact is related to the consequences of situations. Impacts are all actual damage caused to the environment.
Therefore, carrying out a survey together with the team on environmental aspects and impacts is fundamental. Because these points, when not well monitored, can have negative consequences for the company and its stakeholders.
Furthermore, any significant damage to the environment or even to human health can be considered an environmental crime. Therefore, the importance of making everyone aware of their responsibilities.
c) Contribution to the effectiveness of the environmental management system, including the benefits of improved environmental performance
Everyone on your team needs to know what their role is and how they can contribute to ensuring sustainability and compliance with the company’s objectives and targets.
Your employee needs to know how he can contribute to achieving the objectives, that is, what actions to take to achieve good management and protection of the environment.
Therefore, it is also necessary to know how this management, if it is not in compliance with the requirements of the EMS, can impact the organization.
A well-structured EMS can bring numerous benefits to companies, such as reducing the risk of ecological accidents and improving the use of material and energy resources, such as water and electricity.
Another observed benefit is a good image of the company among its employees and customers, if a company is concerned with sustainability, it is generally better seen by society.
d) The implications of not complying with the requirements of the environmental management system, including non-compliance with legal requirements and other requirements of the organization
It is also essential that the entire team understands that complying with the requirements is an obligation and a duty. Thus, it is necessary that the actions and processes carried out in the company comply with the requirements and ideals of sustainability.
The objective for those who adopt the 14001 standard is to always seek to cause the lowest possible environmental impact (or reduce negative impacts). After all, following such guidelines also implies complying with laws and government demands.
Therefore, it is essential that the entire team shares the same values and ideals and always seeks to be united and meet the requirements, so as not to compromise any other interested party.
When everyone understands their importance and role in the organization, nonconformities will be quickly identified and improvements implemented.
ISO 14001 and the commitment to sustainable management
Organizations that apply for ISO 14001 certification demonstrate through their commitment to these requirements their commitment to sustainable management.
By demonstrating this commitment to environmental compliance, organizations demonstrate their values and commitment to the environment.
The competitive advantages arising from the image improvement are reflected in the external and internal market, raising awareness and motivating its employees. That is why it is important for companies to guide workers on environmental issues.
And for this to happen, the company can hold lectures, education and training actions aimed at respecting and raising awareness of the environment.
Ensure environmental protection
As we have seen, the implementation of an environmental policy is one of the main requirements of good environmental management, according to ISO 14001.
Therefore, implementing it correctly will bring the company efficiency in environmental management, and, consequently, a good image. Being guided by the awareness requirement can also help a lot in the commitment and engagement of your employees.
If you are interested in learning more and even implementing ISO 14001 in your company, count on QMS, which offers ISO certification for companies of different sizes and sectors of operation.