The building blocks of an environmental management system is an understanding of aspects and impacts.
Implementing ISO 14001 begins with identifying how an organisation’s business activities impact on the
Many organisations believe they are already aware of the significant aspects and impacts of their operations.
The process of implementing ISO 14001 may uncover significant impacts not previously identified and allows
for a consistent approach to analysis.
Generally this analysis is done department by department or centre by centre.
It is best if it is a team approach that involves the employees who do the activity. An employee’s
familiarity with a task is essential for both the identification of the environmental impacts of business
activities and the determination or implementation of control measures.
An aspect is any element of an organisation’s activities, products or services that can interact with the
An impact is the change caused to the environment.
Impacts may occur during normal and abnormal operating conditions, such as accidents and
Aspects can often be isolated by analysing the inputs and outputs of an activity.
EVALUATION OF IMPACTS
Once the impacts have been determined they have to be evaluated.
Criteria for evaluation include environmental concerns such as the severity of the impact, and business
concerns such as potential regulatory and legal exposure, the probability of the impact occurring, the
cost of changing the impact and effect on public image.
This type of evaluation highlights the significant impacts. These, in turn, determine the significant
aspects. Once the significant aspects have been determined, targets and objectives can be set.