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How to Identify and Evaluate Environmental Aspects and Impacts


Sri Muruga

Dear randy and others,

Sorry about missing the forums protocol.
My Name is Sri, i am a HSE/QA Manager in a construction company in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am new to posting in the forum, appreciate your advise and sharing of information.
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Super Moderator
Not a big deal.

The Cove has an extremely strong "SEARCH" tool, get familiar with it. There are also over 1,000 downloadable attachments free for your use, look at the Green "Post Attachment List" bar in the upper left portion of the top page.

What you have asked for has been answered a couple of dozen times and is available in the ISO 14001 Thread, just start looking.



Agree that the basic understanding of the standard is sometimes lacking.

You ought to see the stares you get from folks during an audit when you ask them about the aspects related to their products. The reaction many times is similiar to :mg:

The greatest problem I see is one that comes up here all the time...a failure to READ the standard, all of it, not just clause 4, and a lack of using Guidance documents.


Hi guys,

Long time no see! After many revisions, we have finally finished compiling the aspects and impacts register with the involvement of pretty much the whole company. It took a long time but I believe it has helped set a good foundation. The risk assessment matrix has also been updated. Please see the attached files and let me know what you think. :D

We've already got objectives and procedures in place too so getting ISO14001 certified shouldn't be too far away.

:thanx: :)



Super Moderator
That is really good, and colorful too. I doubt that anyone can raise a question about time and effort.

Very nice job!:applause:

I'll use it as another example of what the process can look like if you don't mind.


Thanks for the kind words Randy. :D

The chart's pretty big in size and the colors help me
find what I need quickly without confusing myself. :bonk:

No problems. You're more than welcome to use it as
an example if you find it useful. :thanks:
Hi all, Been away for a while but decided to drop in and review some of the threads.
To my amazement I can't believe how confusing the aspects/impacts discussion has become. As we all know or should know ISO 14001 was the precurser to the process approach to systems implementation. (Thanks to P. Crosby). So this should make the approach to aspects/Iimpacts fairly simple.
Aspects are causes, impacts are effects; and all this can change, as pointed out by Randy, as we traverse through the investigation. This can be shown graphically by determining the life cycle for each activity in a process utilizing the flow chart method.

As for aspects/impacts rating, the only requirement is to determine significance.
I rate impacts only as significant or non-significant. Significance based on;
Subject to legal and other requirements, subject to accidental spills, Pertains to energy usage, subject to high environmental loading.

Ford "suggests" using a modified FMEA format which does not include the severity, occurrence or detection rating criteria.

As always, just my humble opinion


Super Moderator
Hey, was hoppenin'?

What you're doing may be perfectly OK and FMEA is one the approaches that cn be taken. Remember, significance is based upon the criteria of the organization and is an outcome of a process.

Just keep the cause vs effect understanding square and everything should be fine. (Also the impact of an aspect may very well become an aspect with another impact.....(input to output becoming the input of another output and so on)



I've found the posts and info on this thread very interesting and helpful and am hoping that I may be able to get some advice..

I am reviewing how we identify and assess our environmental aspects and can someone tell me if I'm on the right track? I've attached the draft of the aspects register and risk assessment table and any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated

The aspects currently identified are fairly general e.g. waste this adquate or should this be broken down into more specific aspects e.g disposal of waste oil, batteries, cardboard etc?

The approach I have taken is to assign a rating to the frequency of occurence and severity of impact. This has been put into the risk assessment table to assess the risk rating. Relevant legislation has been taken into account and given a rating of 1-5. On addition of the frequency, severity rating and legis rating, those >10 are graded as significant

Many Thanks





At a glance, you're on the right track with the format which seems pretty standard to what's been discussed.
Firstly, I would suggest you need to look at your scoring criteria for severity, you dont really stipulate the criteria for each grading. i.e. you say a ranking of 5 is 'severe', but you dont say what consitutes a severe event.

Also I dont understand the scoring for legislation, you dont specify, what consitutes a 1-5 ?

Somewhere in the big picture of the review, you need to consider whether the activity in question is bound by any legislation, whether failure to control the activity may lead to an actual pollution event, whether there are any objectives/targets in place for the activity, etc. If the answer is yes to any of these, there should be a clear reference to this and I would recommend that your scoring reflects this.

I dont know your industry, so I cant comment on the aspects you should review. I would suggest however that you keep it very basic and simple to start with then develop each further.
There are a number of different techniques, there is no right way, but the end results must mean something and give you a foundation for your environmental management system, as that is effectively what this should be. If you get it right, your EMS should fall into place.

Looking at what you have I would have concerns about where it is going.

Taking your first entry 'disposal of special waste', there is no clear indication of consideration of the lifespan of this substance. For my organisation an example of special waste is hydraulic oil, so the lifespan of this is:

movement (into storage),
decant (for use),
movement (to point of use),
use (in application),
removal (from point of use),
movement (from point of use),
storage (for disposal),

Each of these phases have environmental risk/impact associated with it, some are bound by legislation, some may result in a pollution incident, some are only significant in emergency situations, some can be removed by simple actions, some occur on a daily basis, some once in a blue moon, some may give rise to objectives, some may require specialist skills, training, use of contractors, etc.

One further point to be careful on is that you have identified 'freon 22 emmisions' as an aspect. I would recommend re-wording this or reviewing the process which is causing this. R-22 is a classified ODS and is bound by strict regulation, making emission a compliance and pollution issue. I assume you are using chiller, refrigeration or A/C units running R-22 refrigerant and have a potential environmental impact with accidental release, in which case I would word this as either 'accidental release of Freon 22' or 'use of Freon 22 in refrigeration units'. Bear in mind also that handling of ODS's is bound by it's own regulations which brings in the factor of sub-contractors (competence awareness and training), you also have obligations for maintenance of ODS running units and many ODS's (inc. R-22) are being phased-out in the near future.

I think you still have a long way to go and may be in danger of heading off in the wrong direction.

If you post a bit more about your processes, i may be able to provide more guidance.

Hopefully this hasn't confused you too much. Remember we're all here to help. :)
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