EMS – Achieving Consistency in Document Management

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Managing documents is one aspect of your EMS that is crucial to your ability to demonstrate compliance with the laws and regulations that govern your facility.  Whether it is an auditor looking for a demonstration of compliance, or a regulator inquiring about a required report, compliance records need to be managed consistently every time.

Create an environmental document control procedure for your organization.   The procedure should create a document flow so that every piece of correspondence is handled consistently, and will go through the necessary steps.  As the process becomes routine, the efficiency of the organization will improve.  After you have defined the workflow for outgoing and incoming documentation, summarize it in a flowchart.  A graphical flowchart will provide a quick reference for those managing your permits.

For incoming correspondence, the procedure should identify:

  • The person/role receiving communication
  • Routing for review of correspondence
  • Procedure if correspondence requires follow-up
  • Incorporation into obligation register (if applicable)
  • Scanning/filing procedure
  • Electronic file naming convention

Similarly, for outgoing correspondence, the procedure should identify:

  • Person/role writing correspondence
  • Electronic file naming convention
  • Review/approval/signature process
  • Scanning/filing procedure
  • Mailing procedure – (consider certified mail with return receipts for better tracking)
  • System for tracking correspondence

Creating a systematic procedure for managing correspondence will result in a more efficient flow of documents through your organization.  Documents will be properly reviewed and approved, and will be easily retrieved when needed.  The system should be simple and concise so that it can be summarized on a one-page flow diagram.

What other ideas have made document management simpler at your organization?  As always, I welcome comments and feedback on all of my blogs.

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