Static Significant Environmental Aspects (ISO 14001 Aspects and Impacts)

S

Specky

#1
We have sites that have determined their significant aspects by a scoring system. The aspects have been considered in the creation of the Objectives and targets but are not specific to them. In other words, there is no tie between the significant aspects and the O&T.

If the significant aspect scores remain static for a period of time is this out of compliance to a clause in the 14001 standard?
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
#2
Hi,

Significant Aspects can be addressed through (a) Objectives, Targets & Programmes, (b) Training of personnel whose activity can cause significant impact (c) by appropriate Communication, (d) by establishing Operational Control Procedures and (e) by training on emergency and accident handling. Of course the significance of the aspect will come down if any or more of the above is used to address the significant aspect. Your procedure for updating identification and assessment of aspects should specify the frequency at which you would be updating the information on significant aspect. When you review the aspects and if you have taken action, there is a possibility that aspects which were significant to start with are not so significant after the actions are taken. This has to be recorded and the information on aspects updated.

To answer your question, yes, if I were an auditor I would raise this issue as non-conformance to your procedure for identifying and assessing environmental aspects (4.3.1).

Hope the above helps you.

With kind regards,

Ramakrishnan
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#3
To answer your question, yes, if I were an auditor I would raise this issue as non-conformance to your procedure for identifying and assessing environmental aspects (4.3.1).

Hope the above helps you.

With kind regards,

Ramakrishnan
I am an auditor and to answer your question...Not really enough information yet. There isn't anything wrong with SA's staying static as you put it as long as you do have some method by which you do periodic reviews and revise your listings as appropriate.

When you look at it SA's don't have to go away or be reduced, they just have to be identified, documented, monitored/measured, and controlled as well as taken into consideration when setting objectives and targets, appropriate personnel informed of them and as with all aspects linked to legal or other requirements as necessary.
 
T

tigerfan51

#4
Most aspect numeric rating methods that I have seen involve factors such as probability, severity, detectability, consequence, etc. So this means that potential spills/unplanned releases often score highly (are often designated as significant because of what could happen) and consumptive aspects (such as use of electricity, water, gas, etc.) will score much lower. Routine/normal (everyday) wastes tend to score somewhere in the middle. So the upset/unplanned aspects often represent a large share of the organizations significant aspects (SAs), even if they are rare.

I tell my clients that the concept of SAs is only an exercise in determining which are most important out of all the aspects identified by the organization. The standard indicates that SAs should be considered when developing objectives and targets. So, if SAs are the most important aspects to the organization, then it is reasonalble to assume that at least some SAs will be subject to continual improvement initiatives over time.

I would not issue a NC for a new system in which none of the objectives/targets involved SAs (the organization must show that SAs were considered, of course). Over time if no SAs were subject to continual improvement then it is likely that your method for identifying significant aspects should be re-considered. In other words, if you have consistently identified other aspects to improve upon, then aren't those chosen for CI equally or perhaps more important to the organization than the SAs?
 
S

samsung

#5
Most aspect numeric rating methods that I have seen involve factors such as probability, severity, detectability, consequence, etc. So this means that potential spills/unplanned releases often score highly (are often designated as significant because of what could happen) and consumptive aspects (such as use of electricity, water, gas, etc.) will score much lower. Routine/normal (everyday) wastes tend to score somewhere in the middle. So the upset/unplanned aspects often represent a large share of the organizations significant aspects (SAs), even if they are rare.

I tell my clients that the concept of SAs is only an exercise in determining which are most important out of all the aspects identified by the organization. The standard indicates that SAs should be considered when developing objectives and targets. So, if SAs are the most important aspects to the organization, then it is reasonalble to assume that at least some SAs will be subject to continual improvement initiatives over time.

I would not issue a NC for a new system in which none of the objectives/targets involved SAs (the organization must show that SAs were considered, of course). Over time if no SAs were subject to continual improvement then it is likely that your method for identifying significant aspects should be re-considered. In other words, if you have consistently identified other aspects to improve upon, then aren't those chosen for CI equally or perhaps more important to the organization than the SAs?
You have made very good points concerning significance determination. I do agree to your assessment that the aspects related to non-routine activities or abnormal conditions normally receives high scores and thus inadvertently become 'significant' whereas, in effect, they may not be as significant as they have been calculated to be. One of the solutions to get around this problem (or to come closer to the realistic view) is to include an equivalent multiplication factor of 'duration' (of impact) in the equation. Another thing that often deviates the score from the realistic view is the relative significance that we assign to each of the factors (probability, consequence etc.). For example, if

Likelihood is considered as Almost Certain
Consequence as Highly serious
Frequency (of the activity) is continuous or very frequent
Detectability - online or instant and
Duration is 'for more than 24 Hrs.

then it makes no sense to assign equal numerical values (e.g. 10) to each of the highest rated factors. 'Consequence' should always be assigned with higher numeric values than other factors since it's the consequence (impact on the environment) that finally matters and hence should attract foremost consideration while determining the significance level.
 
S

Specky

#6
Hi all,

Fantastic information. I tried to explain best I could the situation that I am running into and, of course, this generally falls flat. Given that, all your answers help out considerably and I thank you for taking the time to respond!
 
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