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Determining the Significant Aspects

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1 Determining the Significant Aspects
EPA Regions 9 & 10 and The Federal Network for Sustainability

2 Objectives After this discussion, you should :
Describe the importance of significant environmental aspects for your EMS. Describe factors to consider in evaluating the significance of environmental aspects and impacts.

3 Overview Definition EMS Requirements Risk Assessment Decision Matrices

4 Definition A significant environmental aspect is an environmental aspect that has or can have a significant environmental impact. Significance could be tied to: Environmental concerns Natural resource concerns Regulatory or legal exposure Business or mission concerns Concerns of interested parties

5 EMS Requirements ISO uses “significant” aspects and impacts as the basis for developing objectives and preparing programs. The facility determines which aspects and impacts are “significant.” The EMS must address all significant aspects.

6 Considerations for Determining Significance
Legal and other requirement Toxicity Consequence / Magnitude Risk / Likelihood Sustainable Others

7 Several Methods for Determining Significance
Risk Assessment Decision Matrices Significance Set by Management

8 Risk Assessment Risk assessment is a tool used by managers to provide information for decision making. Risk assessment may be formal or informal, but it is always there.

9 Risk Management Risk management addresses unacceptable risk.
Residual risk is the unidentified risk plus any acceptable, identified risk remaining after risk management.

10 Characterizing Risk Exposure - How big of a problem is it?
Global, regional, local? Severity - How bad will it get? Probability - How likely is it to occur? Daily, weekly, monthly, annually, in emergencies, only when a certain event happens, when a new project starts?

11 Risk Assessment Estimate exposure, severity, and probability for each aspect Prepare relative rank for each aspect Compare ranking to determine significance

12 Risk Assessment Example
Aspect Exposure Severity Probability Total Vehicle exhaust 4 2 3 24 Hazardous waste 1 8 Food waste 6 Not real data. Scale of 1 to 5 used with 1 being low and 5 high. Numbers were multiplied to give totals. No weighting factors used.

13 Decision Matrices A decision matrix is a tool used to quantify a risk assessment Identify key criteria Determine relative ranking Evaluate significance

14 Key Criteria for Significance
Environmental impact Health & safety Regulatory or Executive Order requirement Cost Mission impact Environmental policy commitments Community impact

15 Decision Matrix Example
Aspect Env.Imp H&S Cost of Mission Comm. Total Change Vehicle 3 2 - 1 1 3 8 exhaust Hazardous 4 3 - 2 2 2 9 waste Food 1 1 - 1 1 1 3 waste National data. Scale of 1 to 5 used with 1 being low and 5 high. Numbers were added to give totals. No weighting factors used.

16 Significance May Be Defined by Management
Environmental Goals Management Priorities

17 Determining Significance
Risk Assessment and Decision Matrices are only suggestions Refer to your agency’s risk management procedures Establish a procedure and stick with it Make a list of significant aspects and the impacts associated with them

18 Where Do Significant Aspects Fit in Your EMS?
EMS manages your significant aspects, impacts Objectives and targets for your significant aspects shall be considered Employees need to be aware of significant environmental aspects of their jobs Organizations shall consider processes for external communication of significant aspects and document decision Organization shall have procedures to monitor operations & activities that can have signif. impact(s)

19 Summary Significant aspects are defined based on facility-specific criteria A formal procedure is used to evaluate significance Preparing a list of significant aspects is a big part of an EMS

20 Exercise 4: Determining significant Aspects
Use reproducible methodology; e.g., rank using a formula containing factors the organization considers important Potential factors severity probability/frequency risk (environmental/ health/financial) toxicity external concerns ability to control/ influence/investigate duration regulatory concern

21 Examples of Factor Ratings
Severity 5 Catastrophic 4 High 3 Moderate 2 Low 1 Slight 0 Positive Impact Regulatory Importance Current violation Non-compliance, past 3 yrs Non-compliance, past 5 yrs 2 In compliance 1 Below regulatory cut-off 0 Unregulated

22 Examples of Factor Ratings
Probability 5 Certainty 4 Likely 3 So/So 2 Unlikely 1 Very unlikely Potential for Increased Control 5 High, with cost savings 4 High at low cost 3 Moderate 2 Low 1 Low and very costly

23 Example of Rating Scheme
Significance = (Severity + RI + Prob) Control

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