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Maintaining your System

Once you have developed your EMS, there are a few ongoing tasks that you will need to perform to maintain the system. These tasks include complying with your environmental management plans and monitoring priority issues. In addition, you must conduct (as a minimum) annual internal audits and management reviews, as well as recording important information. The internal audit and management review processes are described
below, along with the essential components of effective record keeping.

An EMS requires a new level of record keeping that may seem excessive at first, but you will quickly fall into the habit of rigorous record keeping.


• Step 1: Review and improve

Pastoral management practices change over time as you learn-by-doing, and as research creates new information and management techniques. So that your EMS helps you to comply with current industry developments, it must be continually appraised and improved. This can be achieved through a regular process of internal audits and management reviews. An internal audit involves looking over your system to confirm that you are doing all the things you had planned. A management review is used to assess if your system is still relevant to your needs.

The difference between an internal audit and a management review can be hard to grasp. You might find the following analogy useful for clarifying the difference.

Imagine that an EMS is a recipe for baking a cake.

To bake the cake, the chef must first assemble all the ingredients according to the recipe.

As the mixture is being prepared, the chef will check that all the ingredients have been added to the mixture in the right amounts.

If the recipe called for three eggs the chef might ask, “Did I add all three eggs to the mixture?” This process of checking that everything has been completed as planned is like an internal audit.

An internal audit involves making sure that you have done what you said you would do.

A management review is somewhat different. Once the cooking process is complete and the cake has been removed from the oven, the chef will be concerned with appraising the quality of the cake and also the recipe.

The chef might ask, “Did this recipe enable me to make the cake I wanted to make?” If the cake is not what the chef had hoped for, he or she may ask, “How can I modify the recipe to give me the cake I want?”

This appraisal process is essentially a management review. A management review assesses whether your actions have been successful in helping you reach your goals. By checking and reviewing the recipe and cake, the chef is able to continually improve the quality of the cake. Likewise, by checking and reviewing your EMS, you will be able to continually improve your environmental performance.

Internal Audits

An internal audit is a useful way of ensuring that your management system is operating as you had planned. The audit assesses whether activities and processes are operating as outlined in your EMS manual. It might identify training that has been delivered or identify records that are not being kept. However, an internal audit will not assess the suitability of your training allocations or record keeping requirements; that will occur during a management review. The results of an internal audit will enable you to focus your efforts where they are needed and continually improve your system.

Internal audits need to be conducted on a regular basis. When you first introduce your system it would be worthwhile running an audit every six months until you feel confident that your system is fully integrated into your business . Once you have eliminated most of your teething problems, an annual audit should be sufficient, but always bear in mind that some areas may need auditing more or less frequently than others.

You should conduct an internal audit (of parts of the system affected) if you make any changes to your
production process, or make a change to your environmental management system.

Conducting an internal audit

1. Develop a schedule

A schedule should set out the broad areas of your system that will be assessed and the timeframe in which the audit will take place. As a minimum you should look to assess your environmental policy, environmental impacts, objectives and targets, procedures, corrective actions, training, monitoring, records, internal audits and management reviews. You might check your entire system at once or assess it section by section throughout the year. Click here for an Internal Audit Schedule template.

2. Checklist

You need to build upon the broad assessment areas that you established in your schedule. To do this you should develop a checklist of questions that will provide you with the information you need to assess your system. Your questions might provide you with a yes or no answer, but a detailed response is often more useful. Ideally, you would develop more than one checklist for an area, or a whole series of questions to select from for each audit.

These techniques prevent a blinkered approach from developing, where you audit the same thing every time and miss many obvious problems. Your checklist questions might include the following:

Policy

Plans

  • Are all objectives and targets documented?
  • Are these objectives and targets consistent with the policy?

Procedures

  • Are workers aware of the procedures relevant to their duties?
  • Are workers competent in the use of the required procedures?

Training

Documents

  • Are system documents stored safely?
  • Are current versions available to all staff?

Monitoring

  • Can information be used to track environmental performance? Are monitoring tools calibrated and maintained?

Records

  • Are records relating to priority impacts available?

Audits

  • Are internal audits conducted annually?
  • Do audits check compliance with stated system intentions?

Reviews

  • Is the system reviewed annually or as required?
  • Are review decisions recorded and acted upon?

An example of an internal audit checklist can be found in the hypothetical Chanilerie Station EMS.

3. Conduct the assessment

Gather the information you need to answer your checklist questions. You might get this information by interviewing people who work on your property, observing work practices or sighting documents and records.

An effective way of gaining information might be to ask for a practical demonstration of understanding.

4. Reporting and follow-up

You should record the findings of your internal audit in a report and make recommendations as to how you can improve your system. Remember to act on these recommendations!

Click here to see a Report Form.

Management Reviews

A management review is an assessment of your entire environmental management system. The purpose of a review is to ascertain if your system is still effectively addressing your environmental management needs.

Management reviews go beyond an internal audit. Rather than just assessing if your system is working as you had intended, reviews let you objectively assess the strengths and weakness of your system. A review will not just tell you if staff are following procedures, it will allow you to review the results of the internal audits and other information to tell you if those procedures are effective; are they too complicated, or is there a better way of performing the task? A management review will assist you in continually improving your environmental performance.

Conducting a management review

Reviews should be conducted annually by the station manager. There are two steps involved in a management
review:

1. Collecting information

As a minimum you should review your:

Policy - Does it still reflect your environmental management goals?

Impacts - Have your practices and, as a result, impacts, changed? Have your legal or industry obligations changed?

Plans - Is your system moving you towards your objectives and targets? Should your objectives and targets be redefined?

Procedures - Are your current procedures still relevant? Have new management techniques been identified?

Training - Have you employed new workers who will require training? Are new training programs available?

Documents - Do you have effective document control procedures? Could you simplify or improve these procedures?

Monitoring - Does your monitoring program track environmental change?

Audits - Do your internal audits provide you with useful information? Are they conducted often enough? Do the audit results identify areas for improvement?

Reviews - Do your reviews lead to a continual improvement in management?


2. Reporting and Follow-up

Record the results of your review on a Report Form (Click here for a Report Form template.) On the basis of these results you might need to adjust your system so that it incorporates your findings. This could involve rewriting your policy, reworking your objectives and targets or rethinking your procedures.


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• Step 2: Records

Records provide objective evidence that an activity has taken place. Records can be presented as data, a completed form, a list, a note, or a written report. They might be written in the station diary, stored on a computer or located in a filing cabinet drawer.

Records serve a number of purposes; they:

Record keeping is an essential part of maintaining your environmental management system. The types of records that you should maintain include:
monitoring results, as specified in your Environmental Improvement Plans

Record Keeping

Records might vary in form, but they should all contain the following information:

Records should be:

You might already have records, such as your station diary, which contain much of the information required for
your environmental management system. There is no need to change the way you are recording this information,
but make sure that its whereabouts is recorded in your EMS and ensure that previous years’ diaries are
maintained; you never know when they will be needed.


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