Employee Personal Liability once we get our ISO 14001 up and running


Wilf from Sask

One of our good employees is very concerned about increased personal liability once we get our ISO 14001 up and running.

We are a government office with regulatory responsibilities to check private business for compliance with Forestry laws and conformance / compliance to forest operating plans submitted to our office. This individual is worried about what happens if he is unable to complete his EMP steps or the minimum number of inspections as describe in our Operating Procedures. (In the situation where the ability to complete the task is beyond his personal control or the procedure was just unreasonable).

If there was a serious problem, Government would be blamed and potentially be involved in lawsuit. An operating EMS in place would give our government the due diligent defense. However, as an individual clearly named in EMP’s and Operational controls where the steps, have not been completed he is worried he could become named in personal lawsuit along with the government lawsuit. With the EMS in place, he would not have the operating in good faith as a public employee defense or there was no clear rules defense. He is also worried that our government might make made him a scapegoat by saying he did not follow standard government procedures.

I countered with reasonable Operating controls, EMP’s steps along with EMS training he can better do his job as now there is clear direction that has been ranked on the highest environmental risk (aspects) – lower his risk by focusing his and others to work on what has the highest potential for lawsuits.

If the Operating procedures are unreasonable or unworkable, the EMS has ways to recommend changes for improvement. The whole check part of the EMS cycle will document why things like inspections are not being completed and the root causes must be addressed as part of the continuous improvement loop.

Personal liability does go up if you do not follow your Operational Controls or EMP’s steps but the EMS system provides an employee many ways to have, shortcomings document and acted on before anything bad happens. (lots of documented cover you personal butt opportunities)

Have I missed any others?


Super Moderator
1st of all, liability, both civil and criminal, are there regardless of what you do. The fact that you can show you are doing something has the potential to reduce it somewhat, but it will never go away. And that's the truth!!!:(

If you need to change your procedures or EMP's, do it!! They're yours!! Have top management review the issues and do some preventive action before you have to take corrective action.

It's your system!! Do what you need to do to get the job done and reduce potentialities at the same time....this is called planning and improving.
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