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Setting Up Your EMS

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Step 1: Describing your station
Step 2: Identifying legal and other responsibilities
Step 3: Identifying significant environmental impacts
Step 4: Preparing environmental improvement plans
Step 5: Monitoring your progress
Step 6: Writing an environmental policy
Step 7: Developing procedures
Step 8: Preparing an emergency response plan
Step 9: Training and communication
Step 10: Developing system documentation
Step 11: Compiling your system manual

Step 1: Describing your station

Compiling a written description of your station can be a useful way of informing other people about the nature and scale of your activities. Including this description in your EMS brings context to the system.

Compiling a description
To compile a description of your station, use the following steps as a guide:

1. Business details:

• provide general information about your business (owners, trading name, history of operations);
• briefly overview the activities that occur on your station;
• provide a description of your property location (proximity to towns and so forth).

2. Document your natural resources:

• record the size of your lease;
• describe major vegetation types and unusual natural features;
• outline the nature of the soils and topography;
• describe the ground and surface water resources;
• note relevant weather information, such as average seasonal rainfall and temperatures.

You should be able to record all of this information on one or two pages, or you may prefer to present some of this information as a map.

Step 2: Identifying legal and other responsibilities

To have an effective EMS, you need to be fully aware of your legal and industry responsibilities to manage the environment. If you are considering having your EMS independently audited, or certified to the ISO 14001 standard, you must be able to demonstrate that you are fulfilling all of your legal obligations and any other obligations to which you subscribe.

Developing and maintaining an Obligations Register can assist you in achieving compliance. This register should provide a record of all relevant legislation (federal, state and local), codes of practice, and other industry requirements. It should also outline how legal obligations or industry guidelines directly affect your station and pastoral operations. The register should alert you to any station activities with the potential to breach the law or pastoral industry requirements.

You should review your Obligations Register annually as part of an overall system review, making sure that you inform all station staff of changes to legislation or industry guidelines that may affect their duties.

To help build your register, you should look to the following sources for information:
Environmental legislation: a guide for pastoral leaseholders.
• Industry associations.
• Government departments - contact numbers are provided
• Your local government

Click here to view a template for an Obligations Register.

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Step 3: Identifying significant environmental impacts

To develop an environmental management system you need to be aware of the impacts your business may have on the environment. Environmental impacts occur when activities cause a change in the environment. These changes can be either positive or negative.

You should use your EMS to focus attention on the negative environmental impacts on your station; these are the impacts that may cause degradation if left unchecked. In the context of this guidebook, the term ‘environmental impact’, or ‘impact’, refers only to impacts that have, or may have, a detrimental effect on the environment.

This section will help you identify the environmental impacts on your station and determine which should be managed. Two impact-identification methods are described below.

Method 1 – Completing the Environmental Review & Assessment form

The Environmental Review & Assessment form provides a generic list of the environmental impacts associated with pastoral operations. It should be used in conjunction with the Significance Assessment Table. Guidance on the process can be found below. If you choose to use this method for identifying your significant impacts, simply complete the Environmental Review & Assessment form before moving on to step 3.

Method 2 - Independent Environmental Review & Assessment
To complete an independent environmental review and assessment you will need a Review Table and the Significance Assessment Table.

a) Assemble an environmental review team

To make your review comprehensive you should assemble a small group to work as a review team. Include people who work in the different areas of your business. You should also consider including your neighbours or other people with rangeland management expertise; a fresh perspective can be very useful.

b) List all the activities that take place on your station

The best way to list your activities is to ‘brainstorm’ what you do on your station. Remember to include activities performed by contract workers, as well as those performed by you and your staff. Then think beyond your production process to any other activities that occur on your station and have the potential to impact on the environment.

Where practical, check the results of your brainstorming by taking a drive around your station. This should help to make your listing of activities thorough. It is important to be as detailed as possible because missing an activity may mean you miss an important environmental impact.

Example: List all the activities that take place on your station
Don’t forget to consider the chemicals in the garden shed as well as agricultural chemicals, as we can often unwittingly create some dangerous chemical cocktails through incorrect storage.

c) Work out the environmental impacts associated with each activity

For each of the activities you have listed, ask yourself: How might this affect the environment? The answer to this question will assist you in determining the environmental impacts associated with each of your station management activities.
There may be more than one impact associated with an activity and some impacts may be indirect. Remember to consider all of your direct and indirect impacts; also consider all of your real and potential impacts. This assessment should be made regardless of your current management.

Example:Work out the environmental impacts associated with each activity

When reviewing your environmental impacts you may find it helpful to:

1. talk to other pastoralists in your area;
2. contact your pastoral lease inspector or your local Land Conservation District Committee;
3. refer to reference books on the environment.

Important environmental impacts that should be considered include:
• Soil and land degradation • Loss of rare flora and fauna
• Altered drainage patterns • Loss of pasture diversity
• Scrub encroachment • Spread of declared plants
• Chemical contamination of soils • Feral animals
• Potential dangers from chemical fumes and toxic smoke • Drying wetlands
  • Loss of key habitats

d) Determine the cause of each environmental impact

For each of the activities you have listed, ask yourself: What aspect of this activity affects the environment? The
answer to this question should assist you in determining the specific cause of an impact.

You might like to use the Environmental Review & Assessment form as a reference document to ensure you have
not overlooked any significant activities, impacts or causes.

Example: Environmental impact - 'What aspect of this activity affects the environment?

e) Legal responsibilities

To complete this column in your Review Table, you should refer back to your Obligations Register; tick off any issues that you are legally required to manage. You might like to make a note of your precise obligations in the ‘Reasons for your rating’ column.

You can use the Environmental Review & Assessment form as a reference document to ensure you have not overlooked any of your legal or other obligations.

Example: Legal responsibilities

f) Significance Assessment

The significance of an impact is determined by the likelihood that it will occur and the severity of the consequences if it does occur. Significance is judged on the basis of everyday risk levels.

To assess the significance of your environmental impacts, use the Significance Assessment Table to assist you in working through the following steps:

• Start by thinking about the frequency with which an impact occurs. Look along the likelihood’ row at the top of
the Significance Assessment Table and decide if an impact is very common, common, occasional, possible or unlikely to happen. Record the score in the ‘L’ column of your Review Table.

• When determining the likelihood, think about the chance of an environmental impact occurring and whether it
has happened in the past. Make your assessment in light of any practices you currently use to control an
impact; these practices might reduce the probability of it occurring.

• Next, consider the severity of an impact. When an impact occurs, are the consequences severe, moderate, low
or insignificant? Select the most suitable category from the ‘severity’ column. Record the associated score in
the ‘S’ column of your Review Table.

• When determining the severity of an impact, consider the size of the area that could be affected, the possibility and costs associated with reversing the impact, and the vulnerability of the site. Consider proximity
to watercourses, breakaways and other significant areas.

• Refer to your Significance Assessment table. Identify the square in which your likelihood and severity scores
intersect. This square will provide you with the overall significance rating for an impact. Record this information in the ‘Rating’ column of your Review Table.

• Repeat this process for each impact you have identified on your station.

• If you are not currently meeting the legal obligations you identified at the previous step, assign a ‘high significance’ status to the related impact. Record this score in the “Rating” column of your Review Table.

Example: Significance assessment is judged on the basis of everyday risk levels.
g) Reasons for your rating

In this column of your Review Table you must note down the reason why you have assigned a particular significance score to an impact. Remember to include any current management practices that have contributed to your significance rating. This information can be useful as a future reference and shows that you have objectively considered the relative importance of each issue.

Example: Note the reason why you have assigned a particular significance score to an impact

A common failing for businesses doing this assessment is that they miss out parts of their process on the basis of ’It’ll never happen‘.

The Significance Assessment Table allows for these ’unlikely’ events; you will find that however unlikely the event, if the consequences are extreme then the ranking will be high, telling you that, at the very least, you should have some contingency plan in place.

Once you have finished your environmental review, you might wish to complete the Environmental Self- Assessment. The self-assessment will help you to identify potentially beneficial management practices that might assist you to improve your management of the environment.

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Step 4: Preparing environmental improvement plans

Having completed Steps 2 and 3, you will now be aware of the important environmental impacts on your station. In this section you will develop Environmental Improvement Plans to assist you in improving your management these impacts.

As a starting point, you should try to develop Environmental Improvement Plans for impacts assigned a high significance rating. But to avoid creating an overly complex system, you should select only those highly rated issues that you have a reasonable chance of managing or that you are legally obliged to control. As you become more familiar with the EMS process you can develop additional management plans for other issues.
Click here to see a template for an Environmental Improvement Plan.

Complete the following steps to develop Environmental Improvement Plans for each of your priority impacts.

a) Set objectives and targets for each impact

To ensure you have specific environmental management goals, you must set objectives and targets for each of
your priority environmental impacts.

An objective is a broad goal for environmental management.

A target is the fine details of an objective. Targets establish exactly what it is you are aiming to achieve and when
you aim to achieve it. Targets should always be ‘smart’:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound (within a measurable timeframe)
Example: Set objectives and targets for each impact

b) Identify improvement actions

Record the actions you will take to ensure you improve your management of priority environmental issues. You
can obtain advice about appropriate improvement actions from:

  • other pastoralists;
  • rangelands staff at the Departments of Agriculture or Conservation and Land Management;
  • Industry associations, journals and references.
Example: Identify improvement actions

c) Set a timeframe and assign responsibility for each action

Set a date for completing each required improvement action and nominate someone within your business who
will be responsible for completing the task. By setting timeframes and responsibilities you are ensuring the job
gets done.

Example: Set a timeframe and assign responsibility

e) Identify corrective actions

Corrective actions are contingency plans. They are used to help rectify problems in your management system or in the implementation of your management practices, if and when they occur. Corrective actions help to prevent problems from recurring.

Monitoring, internal audits and reviews or complaints - either from neighbouring properties or local authorities –
might alert you to such problems. Alternatively, you might notice them during the course of your work.

You should try to develop your Environmental Improvement Plans having considered what might go wrong and
having built in safeguards, however even the best laid plans can go astray. When developing corrective actions, think about what went wrong and how you could remedy the situation, both in the long and short term.

If you use a corrective action, it is important that you write an Incident Report so that you have a record of which corrective actions were employed and when. This information will be useful in your internal audits and reviews. It also shows that you have attempted to tackle any problems, even if you have not been successful in remedying them. Click here to see an Incident Report.

Example: Corrective actions help rectify problems in your management system

f) Records

Records provide objective evidence that an action has been performed and as such, they are an important source of information in your environmental management system. In this litigious age they can often provide you with some evidence of due diligence should something go wrong.

Simply note down any records that are relevant to your management of a particular impact. You might also like to include the whereabouts of these records.

Example: Records provide objective evidence that an action has been performed

Step 5: Monitoring your progress

Monitoring is a key component of your environmental management system. If you do not monitor your priority impacts you will never know, or be able to demonstrate, that you are managing them successfully. You can assess your progress towards your objectives and targets through a monitoring program. To develop a monitoring program you should consider:

  • what you will need to monitor
  • where you are going to monitor
  • how you are going to monitor
  • when you are going to monitor
  • who will be responsible for monitoring
Example: Monitoring is a key component of your environmental management system


Remember that monitoring does not need to be complicated. Always try to select monitoring techniques that are rapid, relevant and reliable, and ensure you maintain and calibrate your monitoring equipment regularly for accurate results.

Always record the results of your monitoring; this way you will be able to track trends in the status of significant issues and make sure that your management practices are effective.

If you need advice on appropriate monitoring techniques, speak to others with monitoring experience, or contact the rangeland staff in your local Department of Agriculture office. Click here to download a template for a Monitoring Program.

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Step 6: Writing an environmental policy

Your environmental policy is one of the most important parts of your environmental management system. A policy is a statement of your goals and as such provides the foundation for your system.

Developing an environmental policy

1. State your general goal for environmental management.

As part of this goal, you should acknowledge your commitment to continual improvement in environmental performance and the prevention of pollution. You should also state your intention to comply with legal and industry management requirements.

For example:

We, the managers of Chanilerie Station, are dedicated to the responsible management of the natural environment in which our
livestock graze. We understand that the condition of the soil and native vegetation, along with all other aspects of the environment, is critical to our success as pastoralists and to the long-term health and diversity of the rangelands.
As a demonstration of our commitment to responsible rangeland management, we have established an environmental management system. This system commits us to continually improve our management of the environment and ensures that our activities do not cause pollution. Our management system will also help us ensure that we fulfil our legal and industry obligations to manage the environment.

2. Identify the environmental impacts you are going to manage.

We will endeavour to:

    • Reduce the risk of overgrazing by controlling total grazing pressure and ensuring stock numbers match feed on offer and
      seasonal conditions.
    • Protect rare vegetation.
    • Limit the spread of declared plants, in accordance with legal requirements.
    • Conserve the value of riparian areas.
    • Continually monitor and record the condition of our resource base in order to identify and control undesirable change.
3. Sign it! The manager must sign the statement as a sign of commitment.

Record your policy as a brief statement. Keep the language simple and make it about a page in length. Everyone who works on your station must be made aware of your environmental policy. This can be achieved by giving each employee a copy of the policy or, better still, by discussing it and getting a sense of shared vision.

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Step 7: Developing procedures

A procedure is a written record of how tasks should be performed on your station. Having procedures enables someone else to do your job in the same way you would, even if you are not there to supervise them. Procedures ensure that everyone completes tasks in a uniform way.

The idea of writing down the correct way to do a job might seem time consuming, but preparing procedures might in fact save you time in the long run. Most businesses find that the time they invest in writing procedures is quickly recovered because less time is spent correcting mistakes or training new staff, and injuries or equipment damage is often avoided.

Operational procedures

An operational procedure is similar to a work instruction; it documents the correct way of performing a particular activity, such as, drenching, back-lining, monitoring range condition or setting stocking rates, whilst also assigning responsibility for that task. You do not have to write operational procedures for every station activity, just those that are most likely to cause environmental harm if they are not performed in a certain way.

Example: If used chemical containers are not disposed of in the correct way there is a risk that chemical residues might cause environmental harm by contaminating the soil or water. The steps should be recorded in a procedure so that all staff members understand the importance of this task and know the right way to perform it, .

The first step in developing an operational procedure is to determine the method that will be used to reduce the significance of an impact. This means that you must identify appropriate control measures or management practices.

If you need advice about the best way to manage a particular issue, you should refer to:

  • other pastoralists;
  • rangelands staff at the Departments of Agriculture or Conservation and Land Management;
  • industry associations, journals and references.
Alternatively, you may prefer to be innovative with your management practices and devise your own techniques for controlling an impact. You should ensure that contract workers coming onto your station are aware of and follow your operational procedures. Many businesses have run foul of the authorities because of the unauthorised activities of a contractor or casual employee. In the eyes of the law, if you have commissioned an activity then it is your responsibility to see it is done correctly.

System Procedures

In addition to your operational procedures, you should develop procedures that relate to the functions of yourenvironmental management system. These procedures might cover such areas as:

  • document control;
  • record keeping;
  • calibration and maintenance of equipment;
  • internal audits;
  • management reviews;
  • staff induction and training.
Click here to see or download aProcedure Template.

Examples of procedures can be found in the hypothetical in Part II - Chanilerie Station EMS.

Points to consider when developing procedures
  • Keep procedures brief and make sure you use simple, clear language.
  • Use pictures or diagrams if you think it will make your message clearer.
  • You may have work instructions that can be used as a basis for your operational procedures.

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Step 8: Preparing an emergency response plan

Some activities have the potential to result in an emergency situation; consider what might happen if a major spill occurred whilst your fuel tanks were refilling. Natural events such as cyclones can also develop into emergency situations. Having an emergency response plan in place is one way of making sure you are prepared for any such event.

To assess the emergency potential on your station, consider possible worst-case scenarios and natural events. Some of the emergency situations you should consider include:

    • bushfires
    • discharges to waterways
    • chemical and fuel spills
    • floods;
    • cyclones.
An emergency response plan outlines potential incidents and appropriate responses. It should include:

    • a description of the possible emergency situation and its likely effects
    • a planned response to the situation;
    • the details of relevant staff and emergency contacts (such as the police, ambulance and fire services and your
      immediate neighbours);
    • the details of equipment (fire fighting equipment, alarms, first aid kits).
It is also a good idea to prepare a station plan that shows:

    • roads and assembly points;
    • storage points for hazardous materials, such as chemicals, fuels and gas
    • location of water sources and personal safety equipment
    • location of emergency equipment such as water tankers.
It is important to regularly review, test and update your plan so that it remains current and effective. If you have an environmental emergency, you should fill out an Incident Report form, as this will be useful in your internal audits and reviews. It will also show that you attempted to manage the emergency.

You should make sure that all your employees are aware of what to do in an emergency and of the existence of the Emergency Response Plan and where it is located.

Click here for templates for an Emergency Plan and an Incident Report. Examples of these are included in Part II – Chanilerie Station EMS.

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Step 9: Training and communication

To achieve progress towards your environmental management objectives, you will need the co-operation of all station staff. It is important that you provide your staff with the skills to prevent environmental harm and the information to implement your environmental management system. Skills and information are most effectively imparted through training and communication.

Environmental induction

A site induction program is a simple way of informing new staff or contract workers about how your business operates, your values, your expectations and your environmental management goals, and the way these goals relate to their duties. An effective induction will ensure that all staff are aware of the standard of environmental management that you expect from them.

The environmental induction does not need to be complicated or time consuming to deliver, but should ensure that staff:

  • have a general level of environmental awareness and understand the environmental issues on your station;
  • are aware that you have an EMS and understand which aspects of the system relate to their duties;
  • understand the benefits of conforming to your environmental policy and procedures;
  • can access current information about environmental management practices relevant to their duties.

Training register

In addition to providing staff with an environmental induction, you should identify which of your staff perform activities with the potential to cause environmental harm. These staff should be made aware of the correct way to minimise the risk of harm through appropriate training. Training can include a variety of instructional activities ranging from informal on-the-job training to more formal training courses.

To ensure that staff are aware of their responsibilities and to demonstrate that you are providing them with appropriate training, you should establish a Responsibility and Training Table for each member of staff. This table should make it clear who is responsible for performing different station duties and who is in need of training.

You should consider including the following information in a Responsibility and Training Table:

  • worker’s name
  • skills required
  • general duty statement
  • specific duties requiring training
  • training completed in relation to work duties
When completing Responsibility and Training Tables remember to consider the jobs performed by contract workers; some of these jobs might have the potential to cause significant environmental impacts. Where contract work has the potential to cause environmental harm, you should familiarise contractors with your environmental management requirements and relevant operational procedures.

Click here to see a Responsibility and Training Table template. A completed example of this table is provided in Part II – Chanilerie Station EMS.

Communication strategy

A communication strategy outlines the ways in which you intend to communicate information about environmental management on your station; communication can be internal or external.

Internal communication builds awareness about environmental issues amongst your staff and ensures all station and contract workers are aware of your current environmental management requirements. Internal communication methods are often closely associated with on-the-job training and might include an environmental induction program, or staff meetings.

External communication involves updating interested parties about your environmental management. External communication might include displaying a copy of your environmental policy, or providing visitors with a pamphlet that outlines your commitment to managing the rangelands and describes some of your current environmental management projects. External communication might also involve discussing your environmental goals with your local Land Conservation District Committee.

Another useful tool is a matrix that shows who you have regular contact with. This matrix is often set out showing: the interested party; the issues that they are interested in; and the names and contact details. For this to be useful it does need to be kept up to date.

Click here to see a template for a Communication Strategy. A complete example is provided in Part II – Chanilerie Station EMS.

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Step 10: Developing system documentation

Once you have completed the steps in this guidebook, you will have a collection of documents that assist you in achieving and tracking environmental change on your station. These documents are the foundation of your EMS and include:

  • a description and map of your station;
  • an Obligations Register;
  • Environmental Review and Assessment;
  • Environmental Improvement Plans;
  • a Monitoring Program;
  • an Environmental Policy;
  • Operational and System Management procedures;
  • an Emergency Response Plan;
  • Responsibility and Training Tables;
  • a Communication Strategy.
There is one final document that must be added to this list, and that is a system summary.

System Summary

Your summary will sit at the front of your system manual and set the scene for your management system. The purpose of the document is to provide a brief overview of the components of your environmental management system. A well-written summary can help you communicate the nature of your system, as well as your management goals.

You need to include the following headings and information in your summary.

Heading 1: Foreword

Include a brief statement of introduction about your system.

Heading 2: Business Description

Insert the Business Description developed at Step 1 of this guidebook.

Heading 3: Environmental Policy

Insert the Environmental Policy developed at Step 5 of this guidebook.

Heading 4: Planning

Under the following sub-headings, include the information listed below:

• 4.1 Legal requirements

Confirm that legal responsibilities were reviewed and will be met; refer to control procedures or Obligations Register in your system.

• 4.2 Environmental impacts

Provide a list (or reference to the list) of the priority environmental impacts on your station. Include the cause
and significance of each impact.

• 4.3 Objectives and Targets

Confirm that management objectives and targets have been developed for priority impacts.

• 4.4 Environmental Improvement Plans

Confirm that Environmental Improvement Plans have been developed for each priority impact.

• 4.5 Monitoring Program

Confirm that a monitoring program has been developed to track the status of priority environmental issues.

• 4.6 Environmental Management Team

List the name, position and skills of each person involved in developing the Environmental Management Plans.

Heading 5: Implementation and Operation

Under the following sub-headings, include the information listed below:

• 5.1 Structure and Responsibility

Include a flow diagram that shows the organisational structure of your station. Note the responsibilities
assigned to each position.

• 5.2 Training and Communication

Confirm that staff are trained to minimise the risk of environmental harm and that environmental goals are
communicated as appropriate.

• 5.3 Documentation

Confirm that the documentation in your system manual describes your systems and supports the
achievement of your environmental goals.

• 5.4 Document Control

Confirm that documents are replaced as required.

• 5.5 Management Procedures

State that operational and system management procedures have been developed as required.

• 5.6 Emergency Response

Note that a response plan has been developed for potential emergency situations.

Heading 6: Review and Improvement

The aspects described under this heading will be discussed in Section 2: Maintaining Your System.

Under the following sub-headings, include the information listed below:

• 6.1 Records

Confirm that you will keep records of environmental performance and system operation.

• 6.2 Environmental Management System Audit

State that the system will be internally audited on an annual basis.

• 6.3 Management Review

Confirm that the system will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Click here to see an example of a system summary as provided in the hypothetical Chanilerie Station EMS.

Document Control

To ensure you are always working with the current version of a document, it is important that documents are properly controlled. Document control involves the systematic identification and storage of documents. For effective document control, documents should be:

  • titled, numbered and date-referenced;
  • safe and easily located;
  • periodically reviewed and updated;
  • removed once obsolete (it can be useful to keep a copy of previous versions but if you do, make sure they are
    clearly marked as obsolete);
  • readily available to the people who need them;
Click here to see examples of document control as seen in the hypothetical Chanilerie Station EMS documents.

Document Register

Maintaining a document register is an important part of document control; a register provides a list of all current documents and can be easily updated whenever documents are modified.

Click here fore a template for a Document Register. There is a completed example in the hypothetical Chanilerie Station EMS.

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Step 11: Compiling your system manual

Once you have completed steps 1 to 9 in this guidebook, you have all the information you need to compile an EMS manual for your station.
It is often easiest to assemble this information in a loose-leaf folder that can be easily updated as paperwork is modified. Regardless of the method you use to collate this information, the system should be separated into to the following sections:

    1. Document Register (step 10);
    2. System Summary (step 10);
    3. Environmental Improvement Plans (step 4);
    4. Procedures (step 7);
    5. Emergency Response Plan (step 8);
    6. Monitoring Program (step 5);
    7. Obligations Register (step 2);
    8. Environmental Review (step 3);
    9. Communication Strategy (step 9);
    10. Records - including Training and Responsibility Tables (see next section);
    11. Forms.
Once you have compiled your system paperwork, you should move on to Section 2 – Maintaining Your System.

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