Do you have a sense of proportion about your EMS?

During one of the wettest days in August 2016 (well, it is only the 1 August 2016 but it already looks set for several days rain in my part of the United Kingdom), I was introduced to a useful (fun) website that can help you to picture words based on the number of times they appear in a document.

Taking ISO 14001:2015 as my target document and using only the main clause sections of the International Standard, WorldClouds generated this infographic.

ISO 14001:2015 Infographic
ISO 14001:2015 Infographic

It appears to have dropped some words with high numbers of multiple appearances, such as environmental and management, but it seems to have made a good portrayal of the emphasis of “shall” in the International Standard.

Ultimately, it is a fun exercise, which probably tells us something about the prevalence of a word in ISO 14001:2015 for which it can be useful to gain a perspective on the use of a word in relationship to other words, such as “shall” compared with “Note” or “aspects” vs “Risk”.

So it is great that the infographic can give insight into the number of times a word (or concept) is used. Where the infographic falls down is its inability to place the emphasis or importance that a word may have within the International Standard.

Take “risks” which scores lowly compared with “relevant” or “entry”, which are neutral words in the context of the key requirements within ISO 14001:2015, whereas environmental risk is at the very heart of effective environmental management.

My key take-away from this exercise is, far from being an idle exercise during a particularly rainy day, it serves as a reminder that the emphasis and importance of the key concepts and expected outcomes that can be given to the development and management of an Environmental Management System (EMS).

An EMS is not, and never should be, about the words but about the importance that they have within the organisation and towards the delivery of the real outcomes of environmental performance, effective compliance and achievement of environmental objectives.

It is a duty upon us all, whether as a top manager, environmental manager, consultant, auditor or other role within the EMS, that we should focus on how ISO 14001:2015 can be applied to achieve real environmental outcomes rather than be swayed by the words, themselves.

Are you prepared to make that difference within your EMS?

Share this article on Social Media:

Leave a Reply