EMS – Roles and Responsibilities

Truck and shovel

A successful Environmental Management System (EMS) will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities defined for each level of work.  These roles should be developed and communicated to those responsible to ensure that everyone understands their responsibility with respect to the EMS.  The following are a few guidelines for developing the roles and responsibilities for each level of work.  These can be customized, based upon your individual needs, but should include the following basic responsibilities.

General Manager – The most senior management individual on site should:

  • Demonstrate support for and be an advocate for the development of the EMS.  Without the support of senior management, an EMS cannot succeed.
  • Provide adequate financial and staffing resources to support the EMS
  • Demonstrate support for the incorporation of environmental considerations into operational and business decisions.

Environmental Department – The environmental department should:

  • Understand and track legal and other requirements to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Provide assistance to site managers and supervision on environmental issues
  • Assist in the training of management, employees and contractors
  • Develop programs to promote environmental awareness
  • Communicate with regulatory agencies
  • Provide guidance and maintain required permit approvals
  • Respond to and assist with environmental incidents and the development of corrective or preventative measures

Managers and Supervisors: – Site leadership should:

  • Demonstrate support for environmental programs and the EMS
  • Educate and train employees regarding environmental requirements and issues
  • Develop and implement work practices which comply with regulations and permit requirements
  • Ensure effective operation controls are in place and maintained to ensure compliance
  • Be responsible and accountable for compliance with legal and other requirements in their respective areas.
  • Identify, report, and correct environmental deficiencies that can result in non-compliance

Employees and Contractors- All employees, contractors, and vendors should:

  • Understand their job functions and the associated environmental issues and potential impacts
  • Perform their jobs in accordance with the prescribed training/procedures and in compliance with regulations and permit requirements
  • Identify and report environmental compliance issues
  • Cooperate and contribute to the overall success of the EMS and environmental programs

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will provide all levels of personnel with the understanding to perform their job function correctly.  Understanding your role with respect to the environment program is essential to an effective EMS.  What methods have you used to communicate and ensure that everyone understands their role in the EMS?  Please share your comments and suggestions.


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