View Full Version : Offices with ISO 14001 - Environmental Management
We have our yearly audits coming up next week.
I was wondering as to what lengths other offices go to in order to pass this particular standard. Can anyone offer a short synopsis of the procedures and checklists they have installed in their office QA in order to claim ISO 14001. Do you think they are at all useful, or are they merely hoops jumped through to ensure the office keeps its standard?
Answers from design orientated offices are most eagerly awaited.
07-03-2003, 09:01 AM
ISO 14001 in a pure office environment? That's a new one. What do you do that necessitates 14001 registration?
ISO 14001 is pretty useful inasmuch as you can use registration as evidence of due diligence if something goes horribly awry and you get sued for a jillion dollars. It's a more specifically useful standard than ISO 9001. Your message suggests you are dissatisifed with its application in your workplace, however.
Nothing necessitates us having ISO 140001.
It is a standard that my boss wishes to be able to say he has. We have had ISO 9001 for many years, and only applied and gained ISO 14001 two years ago. Now we have to show our processes, ideas and justify them to the auditor.
As an Architectural practice we have chosen to base our standards around several things -
In the office changes:
Waste management in the office (paper & print cartridge recycling, using recycled paper etc..)
Using less power (turning lights / computers / photocopiers off at nights or when not in use), etc..
Eco-News newsletter written and circulated each month to keep staff informed of various relevant issues.
Project Design changes:
Specifying more eco-conscious materials in our building specs.
Informing clients of possible alternative technologies and grant funding available
Checklists for specific design stages (to see if architects are thinking of particular issues during the design process)
Internal 'scoring' of a buildings design processes, material usage and alternative energy technology (over many varied criteria issues)
I am somewhat responsible for implementing a lot of these systems. But most of them are either second nature for a designer, or a pointless waste of time, adding yet more admin to the job.
My question was, to any other office who also attains the same ISO standard, what do you have to do in order to appease the auditor?
Do you need to do anything like the level of work we seem to be doing, or is a simple paper exercise enough to pass?
07-03-2003, 10:06 AM
ISO 14000 Sucks.
I don't know about the administrative side of it, but here's my experience with it:
I worked in the microbiology lab of a cosmetics company which, while I was employed there, prepared itself to get ISO 14000 certified. While I have no problems with such things as "don't dump toxic shit in the sinks where they can pollute the environment," "turn the lights off when you leave a room so as to conserve electricity," and "recycle paper," I had MAJOR problems with the "training," read: Brainwashing Sessions they had in preparation for the auditors for when they came through the labs deciding if we were sufficiently "trained" enough. Our "trainers" (people who worked for our company, not ISO auditors) actually made you memorize the stuff on a stupid little card which you had to carry around with you, and you had to be able to spout off the stuff on demand. I had no patience for this nonsense. I carried the card around in my lab coat pocket, and in fact I did follow the ISO rules in that I disposed of everything from lab waste to paper in accordance to procedure and I turned out lights when I was done with them -- but I did not, and would not, memorize their stupid crap. And I spouted off plenty of steam about it too.
As to how much more difficult this made my job, there were effects here too, although I wasn't doing administrative work. The main thing was this:
In microbiological testing (whether your employer is ISO certified or not), you're supposed to autoclave the waste (plates, pipettes, bottles and tubes, with or without organisms in them) -- that is, sterilize it to make sure that it's longer infectious or potentially infectious. Once the biowaste has been sterilized, it's perfectly safe to throw it away as normal garbage. This means that if you pour the contents of an autoclaved broth bottle down the sink so it'll be empty for a run in the dishwasher, you are NOT spewing infectious or toxic stuff into the environment.
But when ISO came along, we couldn't do this anymore. Now we had to dump out the autoclaved broth bottles in buckets, and have people remove full buckets and bring us empty ones. What happened to the contents of the buckets I had no idea, but I'm sure it had to be time consuming and require a lot of paperwork that didn't exist before ISO. Naturally, the bucket people were irregular with their pickups and deliveries, so oftentimes the media prep/sterilization area of the lab was filled with bottles that we couldn't empty... Yuck, and just try to prep new media for testing we had to do -- no room to do it, and also running short on bottles because we couldn't put them in the dishwasher until they'd been emptied.
As I said, ISO 14000 Sucks!!!!!!!
07-03-2003, 10:18 AM
In addition to the things you mentioned, we also show year to year progress in reducing our environmental footprint, such as recycling a larger percentage of our trash. Also, we set goals to limit water consumption, and show results, and have programs that encourage employees to use transportation with less impact (bike to work, carpool services, etc.). In my experience, auditors want to see you set goals, put in place things to support those goals and measure your outcome, and then adapt your strategies if you fall short.
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