Environmental Liability and ISO 140001 Environmental Management System

Environmental liability is a very real risk for many businesses

Playing a game of what if may seem to be a bit childish but trying to imagine what would happen to your business if it caused damage to the environment is vital in order to protect your business and the environment from disaster.

The European Communities (Environmental Liability) Regulations 2008, came into force in Ireland on 1 April 2009.  These laws outline the frame work of liability when environmental damage is caused and they are based on the “polluter pays” principle. All of the legal actions based upon these laws is undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental damage can be classed in several different ways, to water, land or to the environment or habitat of protected flora or fauna.

So how does this affect your organisation?

Well you don’t know until you do an investigation. You can have a good idea, you can have a fine overview but until you have thoroughly examined your environmental management policies you will never know if you have exposure under the environmental liability regulations.

The expense for a clean up can mount up quite rapidly between clear up costs, expert’s fees as well as the associated legal costs. One accidental slip could end up costing you your business.

Why ISO 14001 works alongside Environmental Liability

An ISO 14001 Environmental Management system enables the company to undergo an honest and comprehensive environmental risk assessment, to analyse all aspects of their business impacts on the environment and then to create a risk register so the business’s eye are open to the potential environmental pitfalls.

This helps to reduce the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines, improves an organisation’s operational  efficiencies and some fringe benefits can include reductions in waste and the consumption of resources, as well as an overall reduction in operating costs.

The standard also helps companies to come up with an incident plan that can help to minimise the impact of any accidental environmental damage.

As an internationally recognised ISO standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe can build upon their certification to ISO 14001, eliminating the need for multiple registrations. By rolling out the same management system with some tweaks to the risk register many organisations are able to extend the scope of their certification.

Finally with environmentalism becoming higher on the agenda there has been a push in the last decade by consumers, for companies to adopt better internal controls. This has resulted in many larger organisations encouraging their smaller suppliers to obtain independent certification on their environmental management practises making the incorporation of ISO 14001 a smart approach for the long term viability of businesses or all sizes.

If you are ready to start the conversation about protecting your business or if you want to take a serious look at your exposure to environmental liability contact us today.

Robert Lyons
Robert Lyons

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