Most organizations embarking on the EMS implementation process greatly underestimate the level of competence needed to do a good job in identifying environmental aspects, impacts and deciding which are significant. It’s sort of like landing an airplane. If you have never done it before the outcome can be a disaster.
The result of inept aspect identification will inevitably be an ineffective EMS. Do yourself and your organizations a favor and get professional help from someone who has done it many times. There are a zillion mediocre EMS consultants that will charge much and deliver little. Do your home work and check their references before you invest in their assistance.
Also, there are serious drawbacks to using a risk based approach to determining which environmental aspects are significant. A better outcome and more effective EMS will be achieved by establishing significance criteria (filters) for aspects such as:
1. Is the aspect regulated?
2. Is there potential for a significant impact from an unplanned release?
3. Are their other interested parties that care about the aspect like neighbors?
4. Is it costing lots of money to manage the aspect?
5. Is the scale or duration of the impact such that we should manage the aspect?
If an aspect is found to meet one of the criteria (gets caught on one of the filters) it should be considered significant or important to the organization and managed by the EMS (controlled, improved or both). If it passes all of the filters it should be considered insignificant or irrelevant to the organizations and ignored by the EMS.