ISO 14000 comprises a set of standards developed by The International Organisation for Standards (ISO) relating to environmental management systems. (EMS). Within these standards ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 detail particular aspects that should be present in an EMS. Companies and organisations can establish individual EMS by adapting the standards to address issues such as spill control. This could involve putting the relevant equipment in place to respond to spills and leaks to limit damage and control, particularly to the environment.
ISO standards require organisations to establish and maintain a programme to manage environmental issues, provide and document training for personnel whose work may significantly effect the environment and establish procedures for prevention of and response to accidents and emergency situations where spills could have an impact.
Section 4.4.7 (Emergency preparedness and response) of ISO 14001 requires: “The organisation shall establish and maintain procedures to identify potential for and respond to accidents and emergency situations, and for preventing and mitigating the environmental impacts that may be associated with them.”
Spill Kits are one method of stocking the absorbent supplies necessary to respond to accidental releases such as overfilling of containers, hose and pipe failures, tank breaches or any other spills that may occur on site and could cause harm to the environment. Spill berms and drain covers are also available to stop spills entering drains or sensitive areas.
Correct use of spill response materials by trained personnel can significantly mitigate the effect a spill or leak could have on the outside environment and reduce the overall disruption on site. To be able to respond effectively, spill kits or absorbents should be positioned at designated locations such as liquid handling, usage and storage areas.
Section 4.3.1 (Planning - Environmental Aspects) of ISO 14001 states: “The organisation shall establish and maintain (a) procedure(s) to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products or services that it can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence, in order to determine those which have or can have a significant impact on the environment.”
Appropriate storage of industrial liquids on spill containment equipment can prevent environmental damage caused by accidental releases from containers. These spillpallets and workfloors can be used in raw material storage areas, product development areas, manufacturing areas, laboratories, together with waste collection and storage areas. Account should also be taken of hazardous materials, such as flammable liquids, corrosives or reactive materials; these may need additional, special precautions.
Maintain and improve
Section 4.3.4 (Planning - Environmental management programmes) requires: “The organisation shall establish and maintain (a) programme(s) for achieving its objectives and targets.”
To achieve and retain certification organisations must create goals for environmental performance. Key activities in which an organisation can significantly improve their impact on the environment are waste minimisation and recycling where the amount of solid waste destined for disposal reduction can be reduced.
Another way of reducing waste is to use contained absorbents such as pads and socks instead of loose granular absorbents. In addition drum funnels can assist with collection of liquids for recycling whilst also reducing emissions to air from containers used for recycling.
ISO 14000 standards exist to help make the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services safer, cleaner and more efficient. An international set of standards also assists companies trade with each other without the need to interpret individual, different environmental standards.
Organisations pursuing and having achieved ISO 14001 certification demonstrate a high regard for our fragile world and how their activities may affect it. They provide a leading example to others seeking to help preserve and improve our environment.