The ISO 1400 applies to a family of environment management standards. The ISO Standard 14001 is a member of this family. It is referred to as ‘management tool’ because it sets out rules that managers can follow in order to comply with requirements. Compliance can indicate a level of management performance and also help to establish a measure of social responsibility that can be bench marked globally.
The ISO is an international organization that concerns itself with providing benchmarks for ethical industrial behaviour. Based in Geneva it is a global organization. The letters ISO might be thought of as an acronym from International Standards Organization but is in fact derived from a Greek word for ‘equal’. This indicates that the aim is for international standards that are the same from one country to the next. Firms that voluntarily meet the stiff requirements can be proud of their certification.
The environment has been a hot issue since the 1960s and industry is often seen as the bad boy on the block as far as pollution, decimation of scarce resources and such issues are concerned. ISO 1400 criteria are a response to such accusations since they confirm that firms have complied with high environmental ethics.
ISO 1400 requirements pertain to environmental concerns. Under the heading of ISO 14001 are requirements that pertain to environmental management systems in organizations of various sizes. All firms have obligations to the environment and to obtain certification for their operation managers need to demonstrate that they have complied with standards in several respects.
In terms of the ISO 14001 requirements a manager should be aware of the impact that his operations might have on the environment. For example, if waste products are disposed of in a way that pollutes local water supplies or the sea, such problems should be identified, monitored and controlled on an ongoing basis.
Most operations have some sort of environmental impact and these cannot all be eliminated instantly without ceasing operations. However, if a company can show that it is aware of the impact of its operations and is taking steps to reduce negative effects, that is sufficient.
A certain amount of self-righteous indignation surrounds environmental issues. When there is an oil spill or industrial accident accusation are hurled around indiscriminately, often by people who feel that they are heroes of the environment. However, even the most conscientious environmentalist leaves an impact on the environment, especially if he is happy to travel by car and plane dressed in textiles that have been coloured by chemical dyes. Hypocrisy is rampant but industrialists who have earned ISO Standard 14001 certification can feel quietly confident that they have done their bit.
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