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Course 790 - Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Management Review, Benefits, and EPA Perspectives

Management Review

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Step 5: Review the program.

At some point, generally within the first year of implementation, results of the checking phase are brought to management for review. Management reviews are one key to continual improvement and help ensure that the EMS will continue to meet the organization's needs over time.

Management Review requires at least two key elements be examined on a set frequency:

  1. the EMS, with special emphasis on the policy and the objectives, to ensure that the system is still effective to the organization's activities; and,
  2. conditions under which the previous environmental aspects were evaluated have changed, the policy and the objectives(s) and target(s) may need to reevaluated and modified.

Management Review Procedure


It is good to have a management review procedure to ensure that top management periodically meets to evaluate the EMS. Management begins to look forward and starts to plan EMS improvements.

Management needs to ensure the system is implemented as planned and that it is producing the expected results. Changes to the EMS may be necessary to address inadequacies or improve general performance. This is expected and senior management is responsible for reviewing and endorsing adjustments to the organization’s or facility’s EMS to reflect those changes.

Here are some examples of things to consider during management review:

  • EMS audit results
  • reports of spills or incidents
  • progress against objectives and targets
  • review of aspects and impacts
  • details regarding implementation of EMS procedures and work instructions
  • actual or potential changes to legal and other requirements
  • business and environmental challenges and their relevance to the EMS

The management review phase not only considers where things stand, but makes sure resources are available to make them better. This returns us full-cycle back to the planning phase of the EMS cycle.

Benefits of an Effective EMS

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It's important to remember the specific design and implementation of an EMS is different in each and every organization. The effectiveness of the system is highly dependent upon an organization's commitment to establish and maintain an effective system. So, let’s review some benefits and challenges associated with EMS.

An effective EMS may help you build a business case in each of the following ways:

  • Improves environmental performance;
  • Enhances compliance - the EMS process clearly outlines the responsibilities associated with achieving and maintaining compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Prevents pollution and conserve resources;
  • Reduces or mitigates risks;
  • Attracts new customers (and retain customers that require suppliers to have an EMS);
  • Increases efficiency and reduce costs - organizations are better able to identify regulatory compliance issues and address the root cause of the compliance problems to prevent recurrence, thus improving efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
  • Improves employee morale and the recruitment of new employees;
  • Enhances your image with citizens, regulators, lenders, and investors - Local communities recognize and appreciate your open commitment to improved environmental performance. Communications with the public are usually improved and refined as a result of EMS procedures.
  • Improves employee awareness of environmental issues and responsibilities - the EMS ensures that all functional areas at a facility or within an organization recognize the relationship between their activities and potential environmental issues that could affect the mission of the organization; and
  • Qualifies for recognition and incentive programs such as the EPA National Environmental Performance Track Program.
  • Improved Environmental Accountability and Compliance - it empowers each individual to contribute to the goal of environmental stewardship.

Potential Challenges


The costs associated with environmental issues can be significant. In addition to the cost of maintaining permits and records, the cost associated with activities such as hazardous waste disposal, can be substantial. Implementation of an EMS identifies opportunities to reduce those costs through more efficient management and through pollution prevention efforts that reduce or eliminate the source of the problem. This approach also helps avoid costs through better management of risks.

Developing and implementing an effective EMS may also involve some additional costs and pose challenges, including:

  • Internal resources, including management and employee time, are required;
  • Facility personnel likely will require additional training;
  • Consultants may need to be hired;
  • Technical resources may be required to analyze environmental impacts and improvement options;
  • New technologies may be needed to support environmental objectives and targets;
  • Senior management must be committed and provide resources;
  • A long-term commitment to EMS is required for success;
  • Facility personnel may be resistant to the changes that are necessary to implement an effective EMS; and
  • Facility personnel may view EMS obligations as "not part of my job."

For more information on developing a business case for EMS, check out the EMS Business Advantage (PDF) booklet.

Future Challenges

Environmental issues are closely associated with some of the major challenges organizations will face in the coming decades. Such issues include:

  • Increasing interests of communities located adjacent to industrial facilities. The public interest in activities will continue to impact decisions at these facilities. Organizations should be committed to being a good neighbor and responding to community environmental concerns is critical to gaining and maintaining community support.
  • Environmental regulatory requirements will continue to grow as new information on possible concerns becomes available. An EMS may allow an organization or facility to identify and address concerns before they reach regulatory status or the EMS will ensure that mechanisms are in place to achieve compliance when new regulations are enacted.
  • Increases in funding and manpower resources to address facility management issues are unlikely.

These and other challenges point to the need for a better way to reconcile mission, environmental, and community issues. In the past, environmental programs at facilities have focused on regulatory compliance as the goal and accepted standard for environmental management. That approach may not suffice in the future.

Environmental Protection Agency’s Perspective On EMS


Generally speaking, the EPA believes that an effectively designed and operated EMS is advantageous to businesses and can play a role at facilities that are regulated by a number of statutes including:

Because EMS is a proactive approach to environmental management, it can create an environment that supports regulators and the regulated community working together efficiently and effectively.

An EMS serves the organization and its mission. Implementing EMS is a process, not an end result. It's the people and their actions, not their words and aspirations. Improvement rests on changing attitudes and behaviors to want to, not have to.

While there are no guarantees of 100 percent compliance with environmental regulations, EPA believes that a well-run EMS can improve a facility's environmental performance. Strong initial implementation and a commitment to sustaining EMS efforts are important to EMS success, including sustained compliance and continual environmental improvement.

At a minimum, all facilities must have some method for addressing environmental requirements and achieving compliance. In the past, facilities often had a number of media-specific systems or programs in place, each focusing on complying with specific laws (for example, the Clean Air Act). Also, facilities often relied on reactive systems that responded to problems as they occurred.

In contrast, an EMS employs a proactive and holistic approach that deals with all environmental obligations in a systematic manner. EPA encourages the use of recognized environmental management frameworks, such as the ISO 14001, as a basis for designing and implementing an EMS.

Compliance Assistance Program

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EPA Regions

The Compliance Assistance Program provides assistance to States, tribes, municipalities, citizens, and the regulated community. This includes working with EPA program offices to develop plain language regulations and compliance assistance tools (such as the Compliance Assistance Clearinghouse and the Environmental Management Application Matrix); developing flexible compliance policies that encourage the use of compliance/technical assistance programs; promoting pollution prevention innovative technology and providing compliance monitoring assistance.

EPA has ten regional offices across the country, each of which is responsible for several states and in some cases, territories or special environmental programs. To find information about visiting the regional offices, visit the EPA’s Regional Office website and select your state or territory from the list they provide.

Generally speaking, EPA supports the idea of voluntary EMS. EPA supports and promotes the development and use of any EMS that helps an organization achieve its environmental obligations and improve its long-term environmental performance. However, EPA does not require EMS implementation.

On a more business-driven note, some major corporations are requiring that their suppliers implement EMS, or even obtain ISO 14001 registration.

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The EPA’s “E3” Program

E3 is a framework through which local communities connect local manufacturers with best technical assistance available. Each community is supported by coalition of federal agencies that have joined forces to form E3. E3 combines the strengths of federal, state, and local resources to promote sustainable manufacturing and economic growth throughout the United States. Communities use E3 to help boost local economies to achieve their unique sustainability goals and priorities. E3 directly helps manufacturers reduce costs, cut wastes, and be more competitive.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Which of the following is an example of things to consider during a management EMS review?

2. Which of the following is considered a benefit of an effective EMS?

3. Which of the following is considered a potential challenge to an effective EMS?

4. EPA encourages the use of recognized environmental management frameworks, such as the _____, as a basis for designing and implementing an EMS.

5. The EPA’s _____ provides assistance to States, tribes, municipalities, citizens, and the regulated community.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.