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The overall goal of EMS planning is to set objectives and targets for improving environmental performance. The City does this by analyzing all of the possible impacts City operations could have on the environment and then selecting the highest priority items to focus on. An objective, for example, might be reducing air emissions; a target (something that can be quantified and measured) would be to reduce these emissions by, say, 10 percent per year. Along with this comes a commitment from City management to provide the resources necessary to achieve these objectives and targets.
Now comes the implementation phase. First, someone is appointed to manage the EMS (in the City’s case, it’s the director of the Office of Environmental Quality). This manager and others create a structure, which becomes the mechanism for telling employees citywide about the EMS, helping them understand that their jobs have impacts on the environment, and then helping them implement EMS procedures and goals in their various workplaces. This “doing” phase also includes communicating EMS goals to the community at large, having clearly written policies, procedures and records, and finally developing procedures for any emergencies that may occur: spills, emissions, accidents and such.
From time to time, the City will measure how successfully it is achieving its environmental objectives. Trained EMS auditors will routinely check the EMS to ensure that procedures are being followed and goals met. They will bring discrepancies to appropriate managers and employees. The idea here is not to punish, but to correct any problems and continually improve operations (a process of perpetual learning). It also recognizes good performance and anticipates problems before they occur.
There is a formal annual review of the EMS by senior management. The process depends on managers asking key questions: Are we meeting our objectives and targets? Are we saving money? What changes seem necessary to help the EMS function better? They may decide that changes to the EMS need to be made and “Act” to make improvements. These questions bring the entire process back again to the planning phase, and the cycle begins anew.
Environmental Management System
How Environmental Stewardship Benefits Dallas City Employees:
Because the City’s Environmental Management System asks all City employees to assume new responsibilities for environmental elements of their work, it may seem as if this new idea will create more burdens than benefits. In the short term, as people become familiar with these innovations, there will be new concepts to study and new procedures to incorporate into work processes; however, not at the expense of the City’s workforce.
Soon enough the EMS should make all municipal jobs better—and, experts say, more rewarding. How so? Because the EMS is founded on the idea of giving each employee not only more responsibility in the workplace, but also more power and more say in day-to-day affairs and long-term planning.
A good EMS expects more from everyone in the organization and, in exchange, it gives back rewards in the form of increased respect and personal power. It encourages everyone to become more of a leader in the workplace.
Although the idea was initially adopted and then implemented by the City’s top managers, the EMS, once in place, is not a “top down” system. EMS works effectively because it empowers staff at all levels of the City’s departments to do what they think is best. It is based on a truth that should be obvious; however, in far too many organizations, it is anything but: those who do a particular job will have the best ideas for doing it safer and more effectively.