The McKinsey Quarterly reported earlier this year on environmental management-related findings from a McKinsey survey conducted in June 2010. The 1,576 responses from executives in a wide range of industries, regions, and functional specialties indicate climate change and energy efficiency as the most important environmental matter in their companies, but also indicate an increasing concern about biodiversity.
The article titled, “The Next Environmental Issue for Business,” suggests that biodiversity may be the next large environmental issue for companies. The June 2010 survey found that 9 percent of the respondents think biodiversity is an important issue. This finding is similar to what a survey in 2007 found related to climate change and energy efficiency. The suggestion here is that if biodiversity has the same trajectory as climate change and energy efficiency, then by 2013, biodiversity will be a significant strategic and management issue for companies.
A significant number of respondents indicated they felt that in the next one to three years, they would have increased pressure to change operations, products, and services to reduce impacts on biodiversity. Read More
What is the difference between an EHS/S system and a program? This is a question that often arises when considering EHS/S management systems and what makes them different from traditional command-and-control programs.
One way to describe this difference is in terms of an information feedback loop. That is, feedback in a system is essential and an integral component of the system. Conversely, this is not always the case with programmatic approaches where feedback is not necessarily part of a structural design.
A program can be defined as singular, vertical, and based on traditional command-control regulations. The focus is on compliance with the program standard/regulation, not the broader impact on EHS/S performance in the organization. In this conceptualization, programmatic approaches have neither strong, if any, feedback nor evaluation mechanisms whereby the program is adjusted or modified, nor “horizontal strength.” Read More
Continual improvement is a term we hear a lot about in business these days. It is a notion that is central to management system approaches rooted in the quality and ISO arenas. As central as this concept has become, I find that organizations struggle with how to define it and then practice it.
Continual improvement may be defined and implemented in any number of ways. The basic notion is that the organization should seek ways to achieve ongoing improvement of EHS/S performance, both in terms of outputs and outcomes. The primary goal of continual improvement activities should be to reduce EHS/S impacts and eliminate worker injury and illness.
Continual improvement does not mean or imply a requirement to attain better-than-compliance conditions as measured against specification regulations or standards. While better-than-compliance conditions may be a goal of an organization, it is not a requirement of the definition of continual improvement suggested here. Read More
An ever-present challenge in EHS/S management is the implementation of EMSs and EHSMSs in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME). There are numerous ways that large organizations address this challenge with their smaller and lower-risk locations.
ISO recently published a document that provides guidance to SMEs with a phased approach to implementing ISO 14001. The full title of this document is 14005:2010 “Environmental management systems – Guidelines for the phased implementation of an environmental management system, including the use of environmental performance evaluation.”
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will see that there are many exciting advances in our field that go way beyond our compliance and technical roots. With the evolution of CSR, sustainability, and systems thinking, for example, there are many ways EHS/S can contribute and make a difference in organizations, beyond traditional compliance and risk management. There is a new context evolving; a new EHS/S space is available for capture.
To do this, at some point you will need to think about how you will reintroduce EHS/S.
Let’s face it, the EHS/S department, function, and staff is not always popular. With our background in regulatory compliance and with a technical focus, we can be viewed as enforcers, cops, nags, etc., and we don’t always do a good job in communicating purpose and value. This history needs to be addressed and the evolution from it needs to be demonstrated. Another challenge is that even within a new context for EHS/S, there are very real compliance and risk management requirements that must be met. Even so, there are ways to do this and provide leadership. Read More
The current issue of ISO Focus (February 2011) is dedicated to a wide range of security-related issues and highlights the ISO 28000 series on security risk management.
ISO 28000 was published in 2007 and provides guidance on security management. Its framework follows the ISO 14001 framework closely. 28000 is the core of the family, providing a specification management system standard. ISO 28004 provides implementation guidance in specific areas, such as 28005 (Electronic Port Clearance) and 20858 (Ships and Marine Technology). Read More
A challenge with sustainability auditing is first defining what should be audited. If sustainability practices are well-defined, the task is somewhat straightforward. When they are not, the internal risk management and audit function is challenged to define what “should” be done and then audit against it.
The December 2010 (pp. 49–52) issue of Internal Auditor contains a robust article that examines sustainability auditing issues and challenges.
“Equipped to Sustain” presents a set of traditional triple-bottom-line audit issues, along with a handful of others, including (1) supply chain reporting, (2) life cycle assessment, and (3) non-financial reporting. The article provides a bundle of questions, in 10 groups, to ask during a sustainability audit. It also offers recommendations as to how to provide internal assurance and testing, along with tips on educating management of the value of using external frameworks, guidelines, or standards, such as the GRI G3, AccountAbility’s AA1000, and even ISO 9000.