ISO 14001 Clause 3.4: Environmental Impacts - What is the definition of an 'Impact'?

J

jmp4429

#1
Help! I feel like an idiot for asking this, but like I've mentioned before I got thrown into this whole ISO 14001 thing without warning and I'm still trying to make sense of it all. I'm a TS 16949 person, not an environmental person!

Someone just sent me a poster listing our environmental Aspects and Impacts for my approval. The plan is to hang this thing up all over the plant. My concern is that the Impacts don't seem to fit the definition of impacts listed in the standard. For example:

Aspect: Electricity
Impacts:
Generator - Consumes diesel fuel
HVAC - Largest consumer of electricity

Shouldn't the Impacts be something more like "Consumption of natural resources" "Air pollution" and such since the definition of an impact is "any change to the environment"? To me, we have sources of aspects listed as impacts. Am I wrong?
 
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J

jmp4429

#3
So, I am correct in understanding that "Generator" and "HVAC" are not acceptable impacts?
 
M

mike101338

#4
yes

you are correct, the generator and HVAC unit are not impacts. What they do, either positive or negative, to the environment would be the impacts.

When I put together our list of aspects and impacts we used the following format to simplify things.

Formed the headings of Air, Land, Water, Electricty use, Gas use, Health and Safety. This allowed us to establish the impacts.

Within each of those aspects, I placed our processes (i.e. air compressor water run off went under land).

Now we have all of our aspects identified and each has its impact, while keeping it clearly seen for all what the impact is.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#5
Think cause (aspect) & effect (impact).

Now let me rattle your cage a bit and then you can use my potentially percieved bullying on your own behalf with your boss.

Clause 4.4.1 requires roles, responsibilities and authorities to be defined, documented and communicated and Clause 4.4.2 requires that personnel who have roles to play within an EMS, in particular individuals whose activities involve significant aspects (not an exact translation, but the meaning is the same) be competant based upon training, education and experience. Looking at your initial question and statements I can determine this...you ain't!

Therefore I would have to state that a possible N/C exists with 4.4.2 (based upon the evidence you have provided). An potential additional N/C in 4.3.1 because of evidence provided and what would turn up following this trail. There may also be a lack of committment on behalf of Top management by assigning a person the task of identifying impacts when that individual states he doesn't know what an impact is resulting in a N/C against 4.2. A more in depth look could most likely uncover additional N/C's which when coupled together could lead to a major against 4.1.

An opportunity for improvement apparently exists regarding the training of personnel charged with responsibilities within the EMS.

A majority of what you do within the system is tied to the identification of aspects, their related impacts and those determined to be significant. Ball this activity up and the system will head South in a heartbeat.

I'm editing this post and leaving the original material after reviewing what you said again....

You are correct in your statement and I jumped the gun in my conclusion...the potential failings lie with the origination of the material you were provided and the individual who provided it. Maybe an internal look at what others understand is in order.

When confronted with additional evidence I have no problem backtracking and saying that I may have erred in my previous conclusion.
 
Last edited:
M

mike101338

#6
I'd argue that one with you Randy

At the age of his program, I'd say he is gaining he knowledge and training he needs to manage the system on this forum right now. After all, he was correct in his assumption. It was an employee that was incorrect. JMP used the tools his training has taught him and sought an answer. Additionally, it is evident that the system is not running yet, thus it is not a system. He can't be NC to something he doesnt yet have fully in place.

JMP, should communciate with upper management with training needs, both his and other employees with positions that can impact the EMS. Based on managements resposne, JMP will know what kind of system to install.
 
#7
jmp4429 said:
Shouldn't the Impacts be something more like "Consumption of natural resources" "Air pollution" and such since the definition of an impact is "any change to the environment"? To me, we have sources of aspects listed as impacts. Am I wrong?
Impacts are defined as "any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial,,,"
Impacts are what your aspects do to the environment. As Randy stated this is a very important thing. Your entire EMS centers on your aspects. Based on your original post, I think you have the concept correct.
 
J

jmp4429

#8
mike101338 said:
At the age of his program, I'd say he is gaining he knowledge and training he needs to manage the system on this forum right now. After all, he was correct in his assumption. It was an employee that was incorrect. JMP used the tools his training has taught him and sought an answer. Additionally, it is evident that the system is not running yet, thus it is not a system. He can't be NC to something he doesnt yet have fully in place.

JMP, should communciate with upper management with training needs, both his and other employees with positions that can impact the EMS. Based on managements resposne, JMP will know what kind of system to install.
Hey! I'm a girl! :lol:

At any rate, this isn't a new program, I'm just a new employee at this company. I recieved training on ISO 14001 at my last job, and again here. When reviewed and updated our Impacts, we had the causes of impacts listed down the side of the page, and the impacts listed across the top. I agreed with the ratings we were assigning each element. Imagine my surpise when the head of the ISO guidance team (and our Chief Environmental Engineer) emailed out the summary of our "impacts" and listed the causes instead.

I just came to ask this question here before I brought it up to the team to make sure my understanding was correct. The audit is coming up very soon and everyone is wound pretty tight as it is, so I didn't want to put anyone in a tizzy without knowing for sure I was correct.

As an update, I did bring this up to the committee, they (most of them) agreed, and we're changing it.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#10
Please just kinda disregard what I may have previously said. The oops factor and brain-f-rt syndrome may have come into play with my reply to your initial post (I also had just gotten home from a fast trip and a couple of airplane rides starting at about 5AM Central so I was trashed).
 
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