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Continual Improvement – Prevention of Pollution

Senior management's main tasks in leadership are to forecast and assess challenges and opportunities for ongoing continual improvement in overall environmental performance.

Continual improvement is a journey, an ongoing commitment by top management, requiring employee engagement and stakeholder support, and needs to be applied internationally or wherever the company is conducting business. Top management's vision is outlined in its strategy, policies, and contingency plans for continual improvement, and at the same time focuses on long-term profitability.

The company may see breakthrough improvements in energy conservation tied with reduction in costs or incremental improvements over time in how one manages waste.

Unlike quality management, which deals with continual improvement of the product at the beginning of design and/or operational control, environmental management deals with the consequences of its activities, products, and services for continual improvement and the input of new and changing technology and legal and consumer requirements.

In order to achieve improvements in environmental performance consistent with the organization's policy statement, the management system needs to be communicated and supported by its stakeholders, as well as reviewed for continual improvement.

Areas within the management system structure that deal with this commitment are many, from the planning stage of setting and reviewing its measurable objectives, targets, and programs, to its implementation stage of defining roles and responsibilities and training personnel, to its improvement stage. The monitoring and measurement of performance, operational controls, and conformity with environmental objectives and targets to continual improvement is verified through the company's internal audits, corrective/preventive action system and management reviews.

The board of directors should be provided with copies of internal and third-party audits to understand the status of the company's operations.

Internal audits are subject to different initiatives, whether they are international management system requirements, risks, or compliance to legal requirements (e.g., environmental regulations or Sarbanes-Oxley, known as Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act [SOX]). In order for an audit to be effective, the internal audit process needs to be conducted by independent, competent staff. If an individual works for an organization, he or she might not be objective in exercising professional judgment. Top management and in some cases investors rely on this audit process and, therefore, the need for third-party audits.


Focus: Environment – Prevention of Pollution

1 What activities at your organization impact the environment?

a. Positively

b. Negatively

2 How does top management encourage innovation in environmental management?

3 Increases in rates for consumption and materials will continue to rise, so can your organization afford not to introduce environmental programs that would reduce usage and costs? 4 What measurements indicate the improvement of your EMS?

a. Increased employee engagement

b. Reduced costs in facility management – energy, waste

c. Reduced costs in production

d. Increased productivity

e. Reduced material costs

f. Reduced logistics costs

g. Increased revenue through branding – tied with environment

h. Other

5 Is your management system designed to ensure ongoing continual improvement? How?

a. Who are your change agents or leaders?

b. Do you have a change management process in place?

c. What other opportunities do you see to improve the success of your business?

6 Is the commitment to continual improvement visible throughout the organization? Visible to your customers? Is it supported with resources? Is there a plan of action? Is it encouraged? Rewarded?

7 Has your EMS been able to create new business opportunities or influence new capital investments?

8 Has your environmental program(s) helped improve your company's image?

9 What has changed in your organization's performance due to continual improvement?

10 How does your organization deal with ineffective results? 11 Does your company contribute to research tied with the environmental impact of its products, processes, and wastes to minimize adverse impacts? What areas?

12 How will newly defined objectives support the company's guiding principles?

13 What have you learned about the effectiveness and efficiency of your management system from your internal and third-party audit process?

14 Are you able to manage risk more effectively?

15 Has your organization improved in prevention of pollution? What opportunities for improvement (OFls) are identified now and for the future?

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