Username:   Remember Me

Uber Articles {Über (ger) adj. above, beyond }

- Above and Beyond a Mere Article Directory


14001 – Environmental Manual For Multi-Location Enterprises

By Mark Kaganov

Since introduction of ISO 14001 Standard for Environmental Management Systems the market has developed numerous practical models of Environmental Manuals for organizations with single sites. At the same time, formats for management system structures for multi-facility businesses are limited at best in technical publications. This paper discusses a model for structuring a top-level documentation that allows an organization with multiple sites to use common ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Manual. Discussed approach noticeably improves consistency of the organization’s Environmental policies.

Through my work as an EMS Lead Auditor with major registrars, I observed dozens of large multi-location companies struggling with connecting their corporate ISO 14001 Environmental Manuals with the supporting, location-specific, documents. To develop an Environmental Manual for a company with numerous facilities, organizations take two routes. Some organizations create site-specific Environmental Manuals as copies of the corporate Manual; others create site-specific ISO 14001 Environmental Manuals that are entirely different from the corporate Manual.

In the first case, when a site-specific Environmental Manual is a copy of the corporate Manual with modifications specific to a given site, mechanisms to keep these documents coordinated are rarely defined. Difficulties of keeping these documents in sync are due to the fact that corporate Environmental Manuals are controlled by the home office, while local EMS Manuals are responsibility of site’s documentation control departments.

The 2nd approach, when companies permit their sites to establish their own Environmental Manuals, differences in all those Environmental Manuals lead to noticeable disconnect between the corporate and site-specific Environmental Manuals.

From the corporate identity and simply business consistency points of view, an organization should not find itself in a position of having different or conflicting commitments of its facilities to environmental policies, pollution prevention, compliance with regulations and other requirements of ISO 14001 standard.

One of Quality Works’ EMS clients illustrated this deficiency. The home office Manual documented majority of the applicable requirements. At the same time, their facility in Canada did not document Environmental policy, another missed a commitment to prevention of pollution, yet the third one forgot to document their EMS communication procedure at all!

As we can see, both approaches to creation of location’s ISO 14001 Environmental Manuals as copies of the corporate Manuals or independent Manuals do not appear to be practical. Besides, if a company has already spent time on developing an Environmental Manual, why should another employee in the same organization spent more time to create a similar or duplicate document?

Fortunately, there is a solution. Let’s review an example of ISO 14001 2008 Environmental Manual model that references supporting documents within the text of the Manual. For example, element 4.3.2, Legal and other requirements, may read: EMS Associates, LLP has established, implemented and maintains Legal Requirements Procedure to identify and have access to the applicable legal requirements related to the organization’s environmental aspects per the Environmental Aspects Procedure,

This method of referencing supporting procedures is very common for Environmental Manuals for companies with single location. Interestingly, it also works for a multi-site business for those documents that are common for all sites. For instance, Audit Procedure, Data Analysis procedure, and others may be common for all your sites and be referenced in your Environmental Manual as shown.

However, what if our locations need to use different environmental aspects, programs and other site-specific Environmental Management System processes? If we use the model above and want to keep a common ISO 14001 Environmental Manual, we have to reference in the Manual corresponding documents for all locations which may not be practical. Below we will explore how a corporate Environmental Manual can practically reference location-specific documents to support commitments of the company’s common ISO 14001 Environmental Manual.

As with a single-location company, a business can still use discussed reference structure if the number of locations or sites is small; let’s say not to exceed three. For example, clause 4.4.1 Resources, roles, responsibility and authority may read: Hazmat Experts Company ensures the availability of resources essential to establish, implement, maintain and improve the EMS per the Resource Procedure and the Organizational Chart HO and the Organizational Chart Singapore This example references the common Resource Procedure and site-specific organizational charts for Home Office (HO) and Singapore facility. This format works well for limited number of facilities, but it becomes ineffective when the number of company’s locations increases.

If we need to work with a company that has significant number or offices and wishes to reference in the Environmental Manual procedures controlled by its sites, we may take a different approach. For example, we can prepare a matrix to associate the corporate Environmental Manual clauses with the site-specific procedures. We can name this tool Manual Reference Matrix and consider the following reference model:

Corporate ISO 14001 Environmental Manual clause

Manual Reference Matrix Table of Contents (ToC)

Facility Manual Reference Matrix

Location procedure

Our Manual Reference Matrix ToC is simply a list of company’s locations or sites’ Manual Reference Matrixes, as shown in the illustration below:

Manual Reference Matrix Table of Contents

Home Office (San Francisco, California, USA)

Bangkok (Thailand)

Springfield, IL (USA)

Aspen, Colorado (USA)

Los Angeles, CA, USA


To illustrate this model, let’s document element 4.3.1 Environmental aspects of our corporate ISO 14001 Environmental Manual with references to site-specific significant environmental aspect matrixes: Environmental Consultants, Inc. has established, implemented and maintains Environmental Aspect Procedure to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services and site-specific significant environmental aspect matrixes per the Manual Reference Matrix ToC. This example shows references to the common Environmental Aspect Procedure and site-specific Significant Environmental Aspect Matrixes. To locate a site-specific Matrix, we need to refer to the Manual Reference Matrix Table of Contents (ToC).

Following the specific location hyperlink for example our Washington facility, we will find a site-specific Manual Reference Matrix. Locating a specific element in the location’s Manual Reference Matrix, we will find a particular, location-specific document that corresponds with a given clause of our ISO 14001 Environmental Manual.

A Manual Reference Matrix may be formatted as a three-column form. The first two columns are titled Corporate EMS Section No. and Corporate EMS References; the third column is called Location procedures. For the element 4.3.1, for example, the Matrix indicates that our Manual Reference Matrix references Significant Environmental Aspect Matrix HO for the corporate office and the Significant Environmental Aspect Matrix WA for the Washington facility.

If you are developing an ISO 14001 Environmental Manual for a large corporation with multiple sites, check the links below for samples of Reference Matrix.

If you are struggling with aligning your corporate EMS Manual with location-specific procedures, check our Environmental Management Manual Reference Matrix. See how our tested tools can help you develop or improve your ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.


Article kindly provided by

Topics: Business | Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Kaganov, Mark "14001 – Environmental Manual For Multi-Location Enterprises." 14001 – Environmental Manual For Multi-Location Enterprises. 18 Mar. 2009. 17 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Kaganov, M (2009, March 18). 14001 – Environmental Manual For Multi-Location Enterprises. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Kaganov, Mark "14001 – Environmental Manual For Multi-Location Enterprises"

Reprint Rights

Creative Commons License
This article is subject to a revocable license under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License, which means you may freely reprint it, in its entirety, provided you include the author's resource box along with LIVE VISIBLE links (without "nofollow" tags). We may revoke the license at any time with or without cause. You must also include the credit to

Comments are closed.

Uber Articles and its partner sites cannot be held responsible for either the content nor the originality of any articles. If you believe the article has been stolen from you without your permission, please contact us and we will remove it immediately. If you have a problem with the accuracy or otherwise of the content of an article, please contact the author, not us! Also, please remember that any opinions and ideas presented in any of the articles are those of the author and cannot be taken to represent the opinions of Uber Articles. All articles are provided for informational purposes only. None of them should be relied upon for medical, psychological, financial, legal, or other professional advice. If you need professional advice, see a professional. We cannot be held responsible for any use or misuse you make of the articles, nor can we be held responsible for any claims for earnings, cures, or other results that the article might make.
  • RSS Feed

    RSS for Business