Sep 14, 2017

Including Competence, Training & Awareness in your company’s EMS

Competence, training and awareness are critical requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. If you don’t understand this section properly and don’t implement these requirements properly, it is easy to omit critical areas, and that could result in negative impacts on our environment.


ISO 14001 focusses on employees’ ability to maintain processes so that a good product is produced. ISO 14001 however looks at processes operating together with their environment. Simply put, the organization should make sure that workers, internal or external, responsible for processes that could potentially have a substantial environmental impact, will do this so that these impacts don’t happen.  The basic process is known as competence, training, and awareness.


Step one is identifying which abilities and skills are needed for anyone to execute the job in such a way that significant impacts are avoided. This competence could be expanded by training, education, or experience. If you for example have chemical processes that should keep a solution’s concentration at a specific pH to prevent undesirable air emissions, the solution’s concentration should be preserved.

If an operator should measure the concentration and regulate the pH by adding a base or acid, the operator requires some chemical knowledge to do this. The operator does not need a chemistry qualification, but there must be chemical knowledge to ensure that any undesirable environmental impact is avoided.


After recognizing which competencies are needed to run processes so that likely major environmental impacts are evaded, these positions need to be filled with people that have these competencies. Training might be required for this. If people responsible for a job are not as competent as required, they need to be trained.

Training comes in different forms, ranging from universities, colleges, or training companies. Then there is practical training in which an inexperienced individual works under an experienced person who will teach them the knowledge required to do the job properly.


Even people with the required competencies often need to recognize how their actions can result in environmental impacts. ISO 14001 separates awareness into 4 areas:

  1. Environmental aspects and impacts

Although someone may be aware that uncontrolled waste emissions from a process could be harmful to the environment if it is not controlled properly, they may not understand what controls are needed.

To comply with the rule, both awareness of the correct procedure and the benefits of following it are important.

  1. Policies and procedures

People will likely to follow a requirement if they understand why a procedure or policy is in place. Informing staff that they should prevent pollution might help to some degree, but if they fully understand that if they don’t adhere to the process it could lead to potential fines and damage to the environment and that this might result in the company going bankrupt, it’s more likely that they will follow procedures.

  1. Likely consequences

If employees fully understand that not adhering to the process could lead to potential fines and environmental damage and that this might result in the company going bankrupt, it’s more likely that they will follow the rules.

Many employees derive great pride and satisfaction from their work if they understand it’s important.

  1. Responsibilities

If employees are unsure about their role, it is unlikely that they will perform the role correctly. This is even more important when a contractor or temporary employee doesn’t know your specific processes if they are not told. If you for example have a control in place that specifies that fluorescent light bulbs must be collected for recycling, but fail to tell a summer student or contractor whose job it is to replace bulbs, they may dispose of them in the normal garbage, as they failed understand their role.

How does MyEasyISO help?

With MyEasyISO, keeping a record of the information that shows that you are successfully achieving your EMS’ plans is easy. With its modules that allows you to capture competence, training, and awareness, you can demonstrate that competencies are achieved through training, education, or experience. Using MyEasyISO will help you ensure that people that perform activities that could potentially lead to environmental impacts, will always be trained and competent to perform tasks in a risk free manner.

Sree vidhya

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