EHS Management Systems

Management systems are the formalized methods by which an organization administers aspects of their operations. Ask us how we can assist you with the implementation of an environmental, E-waste, and/or health and safety management system for your company. 

On this page, we will cover:

  1. Environmental  management systems;
  2. Electronics waste and recycling management systems;
  3. Workplace occupational health and safety management systems.


Environmental Management Systems

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is the formalized means of administering environmental programs in a comprehensive, systematic, planned and documented manner. It includes the organizational structure, planning and resources for developing, implementing and maintaining policy for environmental protection. According to the EPA:

“An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a framework that helps a company achieve its environmental goals through consistent control of its operations. The assumption is that this increased control will improve the environmental performance of the company. The EMS itself does not dictate a level of environmental performance that must be achieved; each company’s EMS is tailored to the company’s business and goals.”

To help organizations improve environmental performance, the EPA has implement EMS initiatives such as the National Environmental Performance Track, the EMS Initiative for Local Governments and the Design for Environment EMS Guide. Another system is the EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) developed by the European Commission. However, it is not a certifiable EMS. An EMS can also help address non-regulated issues, such as energy conservation, and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship.

Basic Elements of an EMS include:

  • Reviewing the company’s environmental goals.
  • Analyzing its environmental impacts and legal requirements.
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets to reduce environmental impacts and comply with legal requirements.
  • Establishing programs to meet these objectives and targets.
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives.
  • Ensuring employees’ environmental awareness and competence.
  • Reviewing progress of the EMS and making improvements.

The basis for an EMS, as with an OHS management system is the continuous improvement cycle of: plan-do-check-act. According to the EPA, potential EMS benefits include:

  • Improved environmental performance
  • Enhanced compliance
  • Pollution prevention
  • Resource conservation
  • New customers/markets
  • Increased efficiency/reduced costs
  • Enhanced employee morale
  • Enhanced image with public, regulators, lenders, investors
  • Employee awareness of environmental issues and responsibilities
  • meeting customer requirements

One important EMS model is the ISO 14001 Standard. ISO 14001 is the most widely accepted international standard for EMS.


ISO 14001 EMS

The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) was developed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. The ISO 14001 environmental management system is a structured system designed to help organizations manage their environmental impacts and improve environmental performance caused by their products, services and activities. It is also the leading international EMS standard. An environmental management system provides structure to environmental management and covers areas such as training, record management, inspections, objectives and policies.

Documented benefits on an EMS, specifically the ISO 14001 EMS include:

  • Operational cost savings
  • a reduction in permit violations
  • an improvement in legal compliance
  • reduction of waste disposal costs
  • improved emergency preparedness
  • helping to qualify for new opportunities in the public sector
  • helps to attract new customers.

ISO 14001:2004 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It does not state requirements for environmental performance, but maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. It can be used by any organization regardless of its activity or sector. Using ISO 14001:2004 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. Companion to ISO 14001:2004 is the ISO 14004:2004 document that provided general guidelines on principals, systems and supporting techniques. ISO 14001:2004 is currently under review with a revision expected by the end of 2015. As with most all Standards, the ISO 14000 series documents are available by paid subscription. Certification to the standard occurs when your operations meet the Standard as determined by a third party certification registrar. Certification is fee-based. Reference:

We can assist you with developing and implementing an ISO 14001 system, and preparing for certification. Please ask us how we may help you prepare for the implementation of an EMS.


Electronics Waste Management and Recycling

Electronics are one of the fastest growing waste streams in the United States. Electronics typically contain hazardous and toxic components such as heavy metals (lead, for example). To keep them out of the landfill and potentially damaging the environment, electronic waste (“E-waste”) recycling has become a requirement for commercial entities.  In order to formalize and control the process, 25 states have now enacted electronics recycling laws. However, your business should recycle your electronics wastes regardless of whether your State has enacted an e-waste program. Effective manage e-waste to divert it from landfill disposal. It is beholden on commercial and industrial entities to manage their electronic wastes in a manner that reduces impacts to the environment. Unfortunately, many businesses are still playing catch-up to the law. Consequently, waste electronics generated by business are still entering landfills or may be mismanaged by recyclers who are not meeting industry standards.

E-waste recycling is a partnership between the generator, the recycler and the local community. To ensure that recycling is managed properly, investigate the provider and determine whether they are certified. While e-waste recyclers do not need to be certified, because of your potential exposure should recycling go wrong (as evidenced by several noteworthy news accounts,) your best approach may likely be to choose a certified e-waste recycler. We can assist you with making that determination and also with implementing an effective e-waste recycling program at your business. Please ask us how we may assist you.


R2 Electronics Waste Recycling Certification

The R2: 2013 Standard was developed by SERI (Sustainable Electronics Recycling International), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the safe and sustainable reuse and recycling of used electronics around the world through transparent and consensus-driven programs. Contributors and stakeholders to the development of the R2 (“Responsible Recycling”) standard included industry representation and the US EPA. SERI is the housing body for the R2 Standard for Responsible Recycling, and also works to engage and educate stakeholders on electronics recycling issues. The R2:2013 Standard is the latest version of R2, the electronics recycling industry’s leading certification. R2:2013 was developed through a transparent multi-stakeholder process. Because SERI is non-profit, their information for R2 is available at no charge. This includes the R2:2013 Standard as well as guidance documents. This is somewhat of a relief considering that standards promulgated and promoted by other entities such as ANSI, ISO, OHSAS for example are available as paid subscriptions. Note that actual certification under R2, as with other management system certifications is a billable service. SERI does offer at no charge an R2 Code of Practices document that details R2 certification process requirements.  To help you and auditors understand the R2 requirements and expectations, SERI also provides a guidance document entitled:   R2:20133 Program Quality Plan.

The R2 Standard requires the recycler to have in place an effective OHS (occupational Health and Safety management system.  Click here for more information. According to SERI:

“An R2:2013 electronics recycler shall possess and use an Environmental, Health, and Safety Management System (EHSMS) to plan and monitor its environmental, health, and safety practices, including the activities it undertakes to conform to each requirement of the R2:2013 Standard. This EHSMS shall be certified to an accredited management system standard.”

Certification to the standard occurs when your operations meet the Standard as determined by a third party certification body. Certification is fee-based. However SERI does not obtain subscription or certification fees from entities who utilize their R2 Standard. As a note, ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is the organization that accredits certifying bodies in the United States.

The R2:2013 standard is comprehensive and effective. Besides detailing how the recycler should manage e-wastes, the Standard identifies parameters for storage, security, training, and importantly, the duties of financial responsibility, maintain appropriate insurance coverage and the development of a site closure plan. The associated R2 Code of Practices is a supporting document defining the processes used in applying and administering the R2:2013 Standard. It contains requirements designed to facilitate R2:2013 audit consistency, including requirements related to SERI’s oversight of the R2:2013 certification process. Please ask us how we may assist you in preparing for and meeting R2 certification requirements.


e-Stewards® Electronics Waste Recycling

 e-Stewards® is a global team of individuals, institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies upholding a safe, ethical, and globally responsible standard for e-waste recycling and refurbishment. e-Stewards continued what was begun by the Basel Action Network (BAN) after Ban shifted focus from making a certifiable program to instead partnering with the R2. BAN later did partner with e-Stewards® and from that the Standard was born. While it is inevitable for groups to promote their own Standards protocols, it is notable that the e-Steward group openly opposes the R2 Standard because it fails to meet their more stringent requirements especially on the use of prison labor and prohibited exports of toxics to poor communities. It is fair to say that the e-Steward Standard was developed by perhaps more pronounced environmentalists than was the R2. The e-Steward Standard and the required Sanctioned Interpretations (amendments) to the Standard are available for purchase from e-Steward. As with R2, e-Stewards® requires the implementation of an EMS (environmental management system) in tandem with their Standard, however, they specifically require the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard as a required aspect of conformance to their Standard. Beside the cost of third-party certification, as with other fee-based certifications, there are one-time and annual fees associated with maintaining an e-Stewards® certification. If you wish to adopt the e-Stewards recycling Standard, ask us how we may assist.


Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Overview

There is more than one formally developed and endorsed occupational health and safety (OHS) management system methodology. Each may provide a good foundation for effective management once tailored to meet your particular needs. Speaking of a good having a good foundation, no OHS management system can be expected to deliver excellences without robust and responsive company management and company culture. We see common failures that often explain why workplace safety in some organizations remains a struggle. There are a number of elements that commonly appear and that dilute or interfere with the success of an effective OHS management system.

In brief, there are a number of common factors that may cause the administration of workplace health and safety to falter. Please review the list below to see how your organization compares.

  1. A management process that appears to be more reactive rather than being proactive and identifying and mitigating potential sources before they become an issue;
  2. Failure of an OHS system is commonly due to a lack of demonstrable, consistent and apparent management leadership and directive;
  3. Relegating OHS to second or third tier status. This includes sort of forcing health and safety administration on individuals who are already pressed to perform at their primary function (for example, and engineer or plant manager);
  4. Undervaluing the OHS management role and hiring in an individual or individuals that simply lack the experience and know-how or not providing them with sufficient support and/or authority;
  5. The culture may likely be more focused on product and profit than on people;
  6. Organizations that are inconsistent and tend go from one fix to another without investing properly, or providing support or giving time for the management system to mature;
  7. Finally, an organization that present a belief in the importance of occupational health and safety but do less to back this up than should be.

These scenarios are actually quite common and generally coupled together in or way or another. By inference, installation of an OHS management system is not a stand-alone process; success comes from tandem development of management support, employee involvement and accountability, the devotion of adequate resources, and measuring your progress.


Health and Safety Management Systems

Each of the main current systems, for example, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001 and ANSI Z10 each have their proponents. Properly implemented and managed, either one offers a good framework on which to establish and maintain an effective health and safety program. Both are based on a feedback loop of continual improvement; the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle integral to the management system. Which one you choose will depend at least in part on your needs, goals and objectives. Some organizations may require a specific OHS management system and that decision is often supply-chain driven. Some companies, especially those based in Europe or Asia are demanding that their vendors and counterparts install an OHS management system such as ISO 45001 or OHSAS 18001. On the other hand, ANSI Z10 was built as an OHS management system for the USA only and does not have standing internationally the way ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001 do. However, the strength of Z10 comes from the methods in which it was developed and because it is a true standard, Federal OSHA here in the USA may eventually adopt it thereby giving it additional importance. But  ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001 and ANSI Z10 work to maintain relevancy and present an effective, dynamic and improving OHS management system at your company.

So once you determine which system you will use, the next step is to prepare for implementation. Then, what it really boils down to how well you tailor the OHS management system to your needs; how well the processes are implemented and the nature of the corporate culture. By that I mean that you can intend for a great OHS system, but without tactical administration, it can possibly fail to perform to expectations and you may still end up in one or more of the undesirable scenarios listed above.

So apart from corporate or supply-chain dictates and dictum, what is that goal of a robust and effective OHS management system? They are the variety of tangible benefits derived from a safe and healthy workplace. An effective management system can and does help company culture embrace occupational health and safety; to make it part of their business ethos. Under the general heading of improved performance, these generally include:

  1. Improved productivity;
  2. Improved employee health and wellness and involvement in your OHS program;
  3. Reduced employee illness and injury and therefore improved workers’ compensation insurance rates;
  4. Improved employee morale;
  5. Supply chain and industry recognition.

A properly functioning OHS management system will surely benefit your organization. Let us assess your current processes and identify solutions to better your current OHS management system.


Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – OHSAS 18001

But because the ANSI Z10 standard is not recognized internationally, many companies prefer the ISO 45001 or the OHSAS 18001 management systems. The OHSAS 18001 OHS management system standard was developed in consultation by a number of international bodies including BSI Group (British standards) to help all types of organizations reduce, and where possible eliminate injury and illness. On the other hand, ISO (International Standards Organization), a non-governmental international organization, has developed ISO 45001, a new international standard for an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). The standard sets forth requirements that provide a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions all over the world. The new standard improves upon OHSAS 18001 and sets an outward focus on overarching health and safety context beyond the workplace.

ISO 45001

ISO 45001 places a strong focus on an organization’s context. It requires the organization to consider what society expects from it in terms of occupational health and safety management. The intent of ISO/DIS 45001 is to provide an organization with a high level, conceptual understanding of the important issues that can affect it either positively or negatively and how it manages its responsibilities toward people working under its control.

Issues of interest are those that affect the organization’s ability to achieve its intended outcomes. These include the objectives it has set for its OHSMS, such as meeting its OHS policy commitments. The organization must determine which interested parties are relevant to its OHSMS, and it must also determine the relevant requirements of those interested parties.

ISO 45001 is based on the ISO Guide 83 which defines a common structure, text, terms and definitions for the next generation of management systems (e.g. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, etc.). This difference from OHSAS 18001 aims to facilitate the implementation process as well as the harmonized, structured, and efficient integration of several management systems.

With ISO 45001, organizations will have to look beyond their own health and safety issues and consider what the society expects from them concerning health and safety issues.

Some organizations use OHSAS 18001 to delegate health and safety responsibilities to a safety manager rather than integrating the system into the organization’s operations. ISO 45001 requires the incorporation of occupational health and safety aspects in the overall management system of the organization, thus driving top management to have a stronger leadership role.

ISO 45001 focuses on identifying and controlling risks rather than hazards, as it is required in OHSAS 18001.

ISO 45001 requires organizations to take into account how suppliers and contractors are managing their risks.

In ISO 45001 several definitions and terms have been added and/or redefined. The standard also states that documented information must be maintained to the extent necessary to have confidence that the OHSMS performance and processes have functioned as planned.

Besides these improvements, the overall aim of ISO 45001 remains the same as OHSAS 18001, which is to reduce unacceptable risks and ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved in an organization’s activities.

Properly administered, an ISO 45001 OSHMS should easily pay for itself financially. Consider the cost of injury, illness, legalities, negative press, and stress that come from poor health and safety, and consider the benefit that comes from taking a planned and informed approach to safety management.

Achieving certification to the ISO 45001 standard demonstrates to others your commitment to safety and can be effectively used in marketing campaigns.

As the world becomes more and more environmentally conscious (including employees), the smart choice is to implement a standards compliant ISO 14001 environmental management system and enjoy the added marketing benefits of recognition that comes from ISO 14001 certification. The ISO standard is our preferred choice for management systems.


OHSAS 18001

The OHSAS 18001 was developed by a consortium of primarily European and Asian organizations as the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series management system. It is designed to be audited and certified. However, because the OHSAS 18001 is technically not a standard, and there are no international accreditation scheme for registrars offering certification. And so, OHSAS 18001 compliance is recognized by a Certificate of Conformance only. In addition, development of the OHSAS 18001 was correctly opposed by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) on the grounds that it was developed outside of the recognized ISO consensus standard process. Likewise, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) favored its own standard, the Z10. The OHSAS 18001 has more sway in Europe and Asia while the ANSI Z10 has gained clout here in the USA. Note that the ISO has developed their own and many say superior OHSMS in the ISO 45001 standard noted above in this article. There are differences between each system, but they share most all of the elements essential to building, maintain and improving an occupational health and safety risk management program. If your primary focus is obtaining recognition through formal certification, temper that with the reality that no matter the OHS management system, if with it you achieve desired results, certification should be considered (a distant at that ) secondary benefit.

OHSAS 18001 was designed to be fully compatible with ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (environmental) management system standards. The 18001 series presently includes the contractual OHSAS 18001:1999 OHS management system specification on which to build and measure an OHS management system. The series also includes OHSAS 18002:2000 which provides non-binding implementation guidelines for OHSAS 18001.  OHSAS 18001 is currently internationally recognized and can be used for accredited certification. OHSAS does not however require specific OHS performance criteria nor does it give detailed specification for the design of a management system. That’s the beauty of OHSAS 18001 – it provides management system protocols and lets you build procedures specific to your needs.

OHSAS 18001 management systems primarily take a preventative approach to occupational health and safety by:

  • Identifying hazards applicable to the organizations operations
  • determining the level of risk associated with the hazard
  • Identifying controls including monitoring and measuring methods where appropriate to help minimize the identified risk
  • Implementing the controls and monitoring compliance with and effectiveness of the controls
  • Taking corrective action in case of non-conformance, injury, or illness
  • Learning from non-conformances and incidents and determining appropriate action to help the organization prevent further incidents.

Furthermore, there is a focus on:

  • Consultation and communication
  • Legal compliance
  • Emergencies
  • Training and competency.

As with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, it is good management practice to develop written safety policies and procedures. Written policies and procedures are effective for helping an organization plan, communicate, check, enforce, and continually improve so that an organization is better able ensure the health and safety of its employees and others affected by its operations.

Achieving certification to OHSAS 18001 demonstrates to others your commitment to safety and can be effectively used in marketing campaigns. As with its ISO counterparts, OHSAS 18001 defines a set of occupational health and safety system requirements.


Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – ANSI Z10

Now, on the other hand, while the younger ANSI Z10 offers management system direction very similar to OHSAS 18001, what makes it notably different is that it is positioned to become a national OHS management system standard here in the USA. Unlike OHSAS 18001, it is not currently an internationally recognized standard. Because our Federal workplace health and safety authority OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Agency) may adopt and likely endorse ANSI Z10, the preferential weight of that standard here in the USA cannot be overlooked. Because of the way it was developed – through a broad and consensus-based process, it has the better makings of a true standard. But as noted, the contents of the ANSI Z10 standard are very similar to the OHSAS 18001 protocols. The primary difference being that the ANSI Z10 protocol was developed with an eye on making it a true standard and an accredited certification. The elements of ANSI Z10 do not align as closely with the existing ISO 14001 (environmental management) or the ISO 9001 (quality management) systems. But it has also been noted to offer more a robust hierarchy of controls – acting as a standard might by being more prescriptive than the OHSAS 18001.


Occupational Health and Safety Management System – Recap

The thing to remember about any OHS management system is that it will work for you if you work with it. You have to fold it into your culture, your operations and of course by definition, your management system. Success turns on simplicity too. The processes have to be applicable, realistic and understandable. Organizations and management sometimes stall out because of fear of the new, different or unknown. But know this; most all organizations that are seeking a formal OHS management system already have most of the pieces in place to lend to success. An OHS management system should not be seen as an alien process, an onerous necessity or a cumbersome and costly management scheme. Done right, an effective OHS management system is none of those. The process should be value-added and fit seamlessly with you culture. Albeit a cultural tweak here or there is often a good way to promote acceptance and involvement. One way to see it is that while the OHS management system may seem to come from the top down, success becomes apparent when its real value flows from the bottom up; when everyone is on board and working toward a common goal. You have turned the corner when workplace safety and health become part of the job description and expectation for the position.

Whichever management system you choose, it should fit easily into your existing system(s). As noted, the selection process should probably first focus on effective management of workplace occupational health and safety and the added benefit of certification should be a secondary concern. That being said, the presence and importance of a specific OHS management system may be a primary driver behind your selection process, and that is fine because no matter which system you chose to adopt, properly implemented, it will benefit you and your employees. We can assist you in making that determination and then prepare and integrate the appropriate program for effective management of occupational health and safety at your company. Please ask us how we may help you implement an OHS management system at your business.


NOTICE: While the information presented here is intended to be informative, we do guarantee its accuracy or applicability. No advice is intended. We do however recommend that you verify your operation requirements with the applicable regulatory authority. 



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