New International Sustainability Management System Standard Reply

After over five years and nearly 2,500 written comments, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced that it will release a final draft of ISO 26000 (international standard for social responsibility) for a two-month vote (August and September) by ISO member countries. Following the vote, it will become published as a full-fledged ISO International Standard by November, 2010.  This new standard will be in the form of a guidance document like ISO 14004 (environmental management system guidance).  You will not be able to certify to this standard.  Instead, by using the information in the document, your company will be able to convert an ISO 14001 (EMS) into a sustainability management system (SMS).

So what does this mean to you?  While the standard refers to “social responsibility,” it is really outlining what most people are calling “sustainability.”  They have taken all of the three responsibilities of sustainability and divided them into manageable “core subjects.”  For example, there are core subjects on environment, consumer issues, community involvement, labor practices and a number of other social and economic topics.  The current draft has one of the best set of consensus information on each of these topics and how they can relate to a sustainability program.  Like other ISO documents, this standard is not prescriptive.  The guidance clearly states that companies can select the core subjects that pertain to their operations and determine what each should cover.  If you wish to start with environmental sustainability, that is fine.  Social and economic core subjects can be added at a later time.

Next, the ISO 26000 guidance addresses a set of principles that should be considered when planning, implementing and maintaining a sustainability program.  This is very helpful since guiding principles are very important in adapting the program to take advantage of the company culture.  Companies that have already implemented sustainability programs can strengthen them using this new standard.

Finally, the ISO 26000 document provides guidance on how to integrate sustainability throughout the organization.  This is very important to implement a corporate sustainability program at the facility level and make it part of what every employee does every day.

We will be posting more blogs on this topic.  Since this guidance already exists in draft form, there is little need to wait until the final publication to start creating an integrated SMS for your company.

New ISO/IEC Standard on Risk Assessment Complements Risk Management Toolbox Reply

Two recently published ISO standards on risk management have just been joined by a third on risk assessment techniques. Together, they provide organizations of all types with a well-stocked toolbox for tackling situations that could affect the achievement of their objectives.

ISO/IEC 31010:2009, Risk management – Risk assessment techniques, has been developed jointly by ISO and its partner IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).

ISO/IEC 31010:2009 will assist organizations in implementing the risk management principles and guidelines provided by the recently published ISO 31000:2009, itself complemented by ISO Guide 73:2009 on risk management vocabulary.

It is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the the ISO Store.

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