BSBSUS401 – Set Targets for Improvements Copy
Element 2: Set Targets for Improvements
Performance Criteria Element 2
2.1 Seek input from stakeholders, key personnel and specialists
2.2 Access external sources of information and data as required
2.3 Evaluate alternative solutions to workplace environmental issues
2.4 Set efficiency targets.
Set Targets for Improvements
Seek Input from Stakeholders, Key Personnel and Specialists
Access External Sources of Information and Data as Required
Ensure that you consult with others when conducting your investigations and prioritising. The combination of many is far more valuable than the ideas of one. We discussed input from others in Element One, so now we will look at the external sources of information that are available.
The Australian Government Department of the Environment website http://www.environment.gov.au and the Business.gov website http://www.business.gov.au along with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) http://www.abs.gov.au are all excellent sources to check.
In addition, your industry advisory body and other manufacturers in your industry may have models that will work for you.
Foreign initiatives are another source of information. A Google search will uncover many.
There are many different ways of actually finding out the information which you need. You will have to decide which approach is most suited to your activities. The methods presented here are complementary and should be used together as part of an overall approach for carrying out your environmental review.
|Data Collection Methods for Risk Identification|
|Eco-Maps||People generally find it easier to understand the information presented in a visual way. For this reason, a simple but effective method for starting off your review is to visualise the physical reality of your activities and the environmental impacts which they have. This will allow you to identify environmental hot-spots.|
|Interviews||Employees of your company at all levels are one of the most valuable information sources which you have. While employees who work in the production area may not be able to give exact figures on emissions, they will generally know what the main problem areas are. By listening to employees you will find out valuable information which is not likely to be documented anywhere in your company. For this reason, it is essential to conduct interviews with employees as part of your initial review and to listen to what they have to say. When interviewing employees as part of your review it is important to emphasise that the aim is not to blame individuals for environmental problems but to find out information so that improvements can be made.|
|Checklists and Questionnaires||An effective initial review requires a method which is transparent and systematic. In practice, this means a method which is written down so that the review can be understood and accessed by different employees in your company, and so that the review can be repeated in years to come regardless of who actually does it.It is important to develop a written list of all the areas which should be reviewed and the questions which should be asked to find out the main qualitative and quantitative information which you need. The checklist/ questionnaire approach has the advantage of being relatively quick and cheap to implement, flexible and easy to use. In addition, you can update and add to checklists and questionnaires for future use, as you gain experience and information. On the other hand, the checklist/questionnaire approach is also a very general method. When using and/or developing checklists you should ensure that they cover the specifics of your activities.|
|Other Methods||If you have sufficient human and financial resources, and/or if your company already has detailed information on its environmental impacts, you may want to adopt a more elaborate method for data collection, e.g. product lifecycle analysis.|
In general, organisations which implement EMS have already implemented other environmental initiatives. Some useful information regarding your environmental impacts and the management procedures already in place is probably already available in your company. Gather existing information, e.g.
• Inventories of supplies/inventories of pollutant materials and poisons
• Environmental impact assessment reports
• Applications for permits, e.g. Integrated pollution control licence
• Soil analysis reports
• Wastewater analysis
• Waste inventories.
Undertaking the Review
This involves visualising the physical reality of your site and identifying the environmental hot-spots. The first step is to develop an ‘Environmental Weather Map’ based on a quick and intuitive evaluation from employees on how they think the company is performing environmentally. The second step is to visualise the company’s environmental impacts. The results are recorded on maps dealing with specific topics e.g. water, air, noise.
Qualitative and Quantitative Review
This involves finding out more detailed information on your environmental impacts, past, present and potential, and how your company currently deals with environmental issues. When carrying out the review you should also pay particular attention to the areas on your eco-maps where performance has been identified as poor, or very poor. Listen well to what employees say during interviews. Check existing documents to see if they can provide answers to any of the questions. Where necessary, carry out measurements.
The results of the questionnaire and feedback from employees should all be recorded. Collect datasheets, inventories of emissions, etc., which provide quantitative information, and records of the results of the questionnaire and interviews. The information in these documents can be used as the basis for your register of environmental impacts.
Reporting Your Findings
Once you have collected all the information you should prepare a report which:
• Provides an overview of your company’s current environmental performance
• Can be used as a basis for deciding what needs to be done to improve the current situation.
Bring together the eco-maps and the results of the review questionnaire and interviews with employees. Summarise the main findings and the most important information. For each area of environmental impact you should comment on the following:
• Level of knowledge about past environmental impacts
• Level of knowledge about current environmental impacts
• Extent to which impacts are monitored
• Measures already identified to improve the situation
• Measures already implemented and results
• Accidents, why past accidents happened and measures to avoid accidents in the future
• Significant costs and savings
• Employee awareness of problems, impacts and procedures.
For each area dealt with in the review you should consider strong and weak points.
|Example of Strong Points|
|Waste storage||Special containers have been purchased and are now used for sorting and storing different types of wastes.|
|Procedures for waste||Introduction of instructions for handling hazardous wastes.|
|Internal communication||Introduction of an energy efficiency awareness program for employees.|
|Examples of Weak Points (Potential Risk Area)|
|Waste storage||The ground area where the new storage container for waste oil is kept is not impermeable.|
|Water||The employee responsible for monitoring wastewater quality does not know how to check the devices they use.|
|Emissions||There have been complaints from employees and from neighbours about air quality.
The filter system used for the painting process is too old and no longer works properly.
Once the review has been completed you should refer back to your draft environmental policy. Decide whether, given the results of the review, the policy should be changed and/or added to and then finalised. In order to monitor and record any changes in your environmental impacts in the following years, you will need to conduct further reviews. The areas covered by, and the frequency of, further reviews will depend on your impacts.
Policy and Procedure Development
An environmental policy is a set of fundamental principles and goals which helps a company to put its environmental commitment into practice. It is the foundation upon which improvement of environmental performance and an Environmental Management System (EMS) can be built. You should begin by assigning responsibilities – deciding who:
• Is responsible for co-ordinating the development of the program
• Provides input on objectives and measures
• Approves the final program
• Authorises the allocation of resources necessary to implement the program.
It is advisable to bring together people with different areas of knowledge and expertise,
• Someone who is very familiar with your operations
• Someone who has a good knowledge of the financial situation of your company
• Someone with the authority to allocate the resources necessary to implement the program.
Decide how to get input from employees, e.g. by organising workshops, or individual discussions with employees. It is important to get input from those involved in day-to-day operations early on in the process.
Set Efficiency Targets
Environmental Impact Assessment
You need to decide which environmental impacts are the most important, and where the action is most needed. This involves evaluating the different impacts and ranking them in terms of significance.
Determining significance can be a difficult task, as it generally requires a certain level of subjective judgement, and because many criteria influence this judgement. One clear case of significance in any area where there is non-compliance with legislation.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need a method which:
• Is clear
• Is written down
• Can be used by different people in your company
• Is easily understandable for people outside of the company, e.g. verifiers.
You are not starting from anything, however. You already have the following valuable information sources:
• Eco-mapping work program
○ Visual presentation of the areas in which action must be taken immediately and other problem areas
○ Report on the initial review
○ A written summary of the main areas of environmental impact.
• Results of the review of legal compliance
○ Visual presentation of the areas in which action must be taken immediately and other problem areas.
These tools already include a certain level of evaluation. You may also use other methods, which could be used when you evaluate your environmental impacts.
You need to identify the criteria that determine the significance of an impact. To develop these criteria look at your eco-maps and your review report and make a list of the reasons why certain impacts were marked as problem areas. Non-compliance with legislation is a clear case. On this basis develop a general list of the most relevant criteria. Decide on a simple weighting system, e.g. 1 = high significance, 2 = low significance, 3 = no significance, and examine each impact using these criteria.
Involve employees from different areas and levels of your company in the process of determining significance. Meetings organised to work on such issues should be moderated by someone with experience in moderation. The meetings should be well prepared in order to get meaningful results.
Remember the documents that you develop to evaluate significance can be used as part of your Environmental Management System documentation. They should be reusable and up-datable.
For each environmental impact identified as significant and requiring action you need to establish:
• An objective for reducing or eliminating the impact in question
• Measure/s to be undertaken to achieve this objective
• Resources required to undertake this measure
• Who is responsible for undertaking the measure?
• Deadline for realising objective.
Your environmental program relates to existing impacts, i.e. the areas identified during your review of environmental performance. However, if your company is planning new
products, production processes, and services, it will also have to develop specific environmental programs to accompany these.
The objectives that you set should be quantitative where possible. They should describe the extent to which you want to improve environmental performance. Set realistic objectives. If your objectives are set too high it is unlikely that they will be realised and this will de-motivate those involved. If objectives are set too low, the company will under-utilise its potential and perhaps be lulled into a false sense of security. You should also avoid setting too many goals.
Measuring Your Progress
When deciding on the best way to realise your objectives you should draw on knowledge and experience existing at different levels of your company. Remember that technical measures are not the only way of achieving your goals! You should also consider organisational and communication measures, e.g. awareness-raising, training.
It is advisable to have a more open, creative session first to identify different possible measures. Make a list of all the different measures suggested. Clearly impractical ideas can be eliminated.
In most cases, there is no one clear-cut solution to a specific environmental problem. While one measure maybe 100% effective in terms of eliminating an environmental impact it may simply cost too much money, or the technology may not yet be available. You should define different criteria that can be used to evaluate proposed measures and to identify the most appropriate measures. Consider measures in terms of:
• Effectiveness in reducing or eliminating the impact in question
• Resources needed in terms of time, money, personnel, knowledge, technology etc.
Where relevant you should also consider the potential for cost-savings and return-on-investment or payback periods. One useful way of ranking measures are:
• Measures required by law
• Measures that will be of benefit to the company
• Measures that will have a neutral effect on the company
• Measures that will represent a burden on the company.
Getting a Second Opinion
When you have prepared a draft version of your environmental program it is a good idea to get feedback from employees who will be responsible for implementing the different measures.
It is essential that employees concerned by the program are well-informed about it and understand their role in implementing it. Of course one of the best ways of doing this will be by involving them in the development of the program from the beginning! Employees not directly involved in implementing the program should also be aware of the program and the main initiatives which it covers. Think about the best ways in which you can let your employees know about the program.
The person with overall responsibility for the environmental program will need to check on progress made in implementing the different measures, the realisation of objectives and adherence to deadlines. If objectives are not realised the reasons for this should be known and recorded. Observations made during implementation should be recorded and taken into consideration when new programs are developed.
No matter what your organisation does, there will still be times when you simply do not get things right, or you miss something that happens, or something completely unexpected actually occurs. In these cases, you need to be prepared with plans put in place to minimise impacts such as:
• Waste spills
• Affecting employee health
• Reducing downtime.
A good contingency plan revolves around:
• Assessing the situations that could occur
• Finding ways of preventing these events from occurring in the first place
• Having a plan in place should the events actually occur to minimise the impact
• Testing your plans
• Reducing the impact of any event.
When you are working to manage contingencies within your organisation, you work through four steps. These steps are:
1. Identify risks that are present
2. Measure the impact of these risks
3. Develop a series of steps or strategies that you can use to manage the risk that is present
4. Monitor these strategies to ensure that they are working.
When you are beginning the process of developing your contingency management plan, you should start by reading through and analysing your business plan. Your business plan should bring together an analysis of the organisation as a whole and the environment within which it is operating. Try to think of your organisation from an outsider’s point of view. What impacts could you foresee affecting your business? What could cause it to fail? What has been omitted from your business plan?
Spend time thinking through every possible occurrence that you consider as a major impact on your organisation. A great question to ask yourself is “what if?” What if an earthquake occurs, what if we are robbed? What if our biggest supplier closes down? What if the cost of our supplies doubles in the price? You need to have in your mind answers to these questions in order to determine where the most significant risks are likely to occur.
Now that you have determined the possible environmental risks that you, as an organisation, are facing, you are in a position to begin setting objectives that allow you to actually eliminate these possible risks from ever occurring.
There are two key methods that you can follow to achieve this:
1. Make your processes such that they are the best they can be and that they reduce the possibility of any contingency ever occurring
2. Take action on the various aspects as you note them.
The method that you ultimately decide to use will be determined by the aspects you have identified, the severity of the impacts and such.
By actually sitting down and writing these objectives, you are formalising their existence and ensuring that all staff are aware of the need to actually work towards their resolution.
Begin by setting general objectives for every major aspect that you have identified.
These objectives must be:
• Aligned to a specific environmental aspect
• Consistent with environmental policy
• Show compliance.
As an example, let’s say that you have identified paper waste as a major issue. You might set objectives as being:
• Reduce the waste from overuse of paper
• Reduce the environmental impact of paper waste.
While these objectives state what you want to do, they give no indication of how to get there. You may have objectives such as:
• Making certain processes paperless
• Encouraging paper recycling
• Making printing double-sided the default.
It is important that you set objectives that you feel are actually achievable. If they are not, you are likely to be left feeling helpless and underachieving.
Evaluate Alternative Solutions to Workplace Environmental Issues
Environmental Impact Assessment
Evaluation is the process that allows us to make sure our solution does the job it has been designed to do and to think about how it could be improved. It must be:
• Easily understood
• Complete because it solves every aspect of the problem
• Efficient because it solves the problem, making best use of the available resources
(e.g. As quickly as possible/using least space)
• Meets any specific criteria given.
If the solution meets these four criteria it is likely to work well.
Your environmental program relates to existing impacts, i.e. the areas identified during your review of environmental performance. However, if your organisation is planning new products, production processes, and services, it will also have to develop specific environmental programs to accompany these.
• When developing policies and procedures, it is important that you assess and identify any environmental risks present in your organisation – this may mean you need to seek out expert advice.
• Any recommendations you make based on your risk assessment should be prioritised and implemented as a part of the organisation’s operational procedures.
• All organisational risk policies and procedures must be carefully implemented to ensure your organisation is in line with its set policy.
• Tasks should be allocated and outcomes monitored in accordance with organisational policies and targets.
• A contingency plan should be developed for all significant risks – outline what will be done in emergency situations.