ISO 14001 Environmental Policy - Personal Liability - Making Managers Sign Policy



I have decided to have ALL of our managers sign our Environmental Policy. Without going into detail, suffice it to say I did this to help emphasize the need for them to take ownership.

I am facing some initial resistance because a couple of them question what legal implications this will have to them as individuals.

Can someone enlighten me as to the potential personal legal issues that exist by them signing the policy.

Just as background info... We are a small (70 person) non-production company.

Thanks for your help,
Brian Kennedy


Super Moderator
It's understandable and comes up frequently. There is a certain amount of liablility regardless of what's signed. The liability attaches itself once you start drawing a salary.

In the policy, top management commits itself to complying with all applicable regulations (the law requires you to do so anyhow) so in signing the policy all management is doing is saying we will comply with the law as it pertains to us. Reverse psycology will point out that the refusal to sign the policy is basically saying "I may choose to know about the law and violate it to suit my needs as necessary". A phrase that goes with this is "DUUUUHHHHH!!!"

If they don't want to sign that's between them and their boss, who by the way may choose to re-evaluate them as an un-necessary liability. DUH!

If you are facing resistance now, hold on to your hat! These guys are going to fight you all the way. If they are not supportive of Top management committment they will not be supportive of the system as a whole and guess what...You lose! Just ask Energy her in the Cove about that.

BTW...Welcome and come back often:bigwave:
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I agree with Randy, welcome Brian! :bigwave:

I also agree with his post. I would add that in this state, liability is more of "what you do", not what you sign. Still, I'm not so sure that forcing signatures on the policy is a good way to "help emphasize the need for them to take ownership". In many cases, management will become more resistant when they perceive they are being coerced.

Take Randy's warning to heart. The road to ownership could be paved with landmines. But we will help you through it! :agree:


Thanks Randy & Dave for your feedback.

I suppose I should have more clearly stated my role and the situation. I am not the senior manager at this location, I am merely the MR for both Quality Systems and EMS. I worked with our President to draft the policy. He has not mandated that all managers sign the policy yet, I made the call and he is letting me run with it that way to help gauge the level of buy-in.

"Forcing" the managers to sign the policy is not my way of getting buy-in. It is just my way to make it somewhat more "real" to them. In my experience, people tend to think about an issue a bit more when they are asked to sign on the dotted line.

My approach to getting buy-in is to include several of these managers on the EMS team and to try to frame the EMS in a way that they see the personal benefit in doing it. Using the KISS approach doesn't hurt either.

Thanks again,


Super Moderator
The dotted line was signed when an agreement was made for salary vs. work

The problem, as I see it, is most folks look upon Implementation as another one of the "gee whiz or get-in-the way" programs that the boss comes up with (this includes the boss too at times).

The decision to implement an ISO type program is a Strategic one and should be handled as a Capital program or project would be. All of the planning, resource allocation, benchmarking, goal setting and other tasks related to Project Management must be incorporated.

Maybe what you need to do is provide some awareness training or overview training to everyone. If you have already done so you may need to do it again in another format so it sinks in through the bone matter.
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