Register of Environmental Legislation

Paul Downing

If you have or are developing an EMS in accordance to ISO 14001:2004, you will know that you have to produce a register of Environmental Legislation and other requirements that you subscribe to.

I have seen many legal registers and for the most part they tend to be lists of legislation at a top level which are applicable to the environmental aspects of the company in question. These “top level” registers of environmental legislation do little to help or enhance environmental management within an organisation and tend to get left on a shelf gathering dust.

 

What is the purpose of the legal register?

Whilst you have to produce one for ISO 14001, there are several good reasons why you should produce a register of environmental legislation that is detailed and provides enough information to be of use. So for example rather than just stating “Water Resources Act 1991” on your register, you should be stating where it applies (consent to discharge from a package effluent plant to a controlled watercourse), what the limits are (BOD 40Mg/l – SS 20Mg/l etc) and what compliance means to your organisation i.e. do you have to comply with these limits for 95% or 100% of the time (known as percentile in Environment Agency compliance terminology). Of course some legislation is more “wordy” such as waste management where you have to have a carrier licence for approved contractors and waste transfer notes, but again you should determine what the legislation means and how it actually applies to your organisation. So to answer my own question, here are some good reasons for preparing a detailed, applicable and relevant up to date legal register.

  • In order to complete a legal compliance audit (also required by ISO 14001) the register of legislation is an ideal check-list and makes the audit easy
  • Provides information to management on where compliance cost reductions can be made – (you don’t always want to “over comply”)
  • It provides a good focus for management within process areas and highlights clearly where risk is in the EMS
  • Is a good training reference for environmental managers to get familiar with the business
  • Allows objectives and targets to be set within legal boundaries
  • Provides management with insights to new and upcoming business legislation

If you need help with a legal register update or legal compliance audit, please contact us to see how we can help you produce a tailored and practical tool for your EMS.

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