To ensure its procedures are the best possible in its environmental and safety programs, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently completed an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and British Standard (BS) audit, respectively.
The audits were conducted by Intertek, which issued certificates of registration on June 7.
The ISO 14001 is the standard specification FRCSW follows for its Environmental Management System (EMS). The Intertec audit was an upgrade from the ISO 14001:2004 standard to the ISO 14001:2015.
The BS Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 180001 (BS OHSAS 18001:2007) is the standard the command follows for its safety management systems (SMS).
FRCSW established its EMS in 1999 and registered to the ISO 14001 environmental standard that same year as part of its efforts to improve environmental performance on a continual basis. The move distinguished the command as the first federal facility to register to the ISO 14001.
“The EMS is required in a lot of Navy installations, but it is Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) who is asking us to maintain our EMS to that 14001 standard,” said environmental engineer Shelli Craig.
She said that the 2015 standard requires continual improvement and that performance is measured and now reported to management.
To achieve the upgrade from the ISO 14001:2004 to the 2015 standard, auditors examined all work shifts comprising three years of data and looked for indications of continual improvement over that period. For the upgrade, the data had to indicate and prove that all of the elements of the standards that were previously set as goals were acquired.
“A big change between the 2004 and 2015 standard is now that top management owns the whole system. That includes the commanding and executive officers, the senior civilian and the executive steering committee. So, there’s a lot more buy-in at all levels within the organization,” Craig said.
Other changes reflected in the 2015 standard expands the EMS coverage and scope; requires interactions with external parties; and new documentation, legal compliance, and operational control requirements.
EMS extended staffing includes approximately 30 material management specialists with environmental collateral duties, 10 environmental reps, 17 members of the Environmental Program Office, and six chemical handlers who collect and dispose of hazardous waste.
The EMS oversees six different programs including air, water and pollution prevention. Four environmental protection specialists monitor the EMS in 20 command locations.
“Two of the four walk the entire site every morning on a daily basis,” Craig noted.
Craig said that a recent chemical spill that required the EMS to ensure corrective actions had taken place.
“Chemical handlers collect liquid waste from various parts of the plant and transport it in large tanks to the industrial waste water treatment plant run by contractors here,” she said. “We had a mishap that was contained, nothing escaped to the environment, but the contractors were also ISO-certified required by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).”
“During the follow-up, I was told they would now lock off some of their connecting hoses so nobody could come to their site and offload waste without knowing about the waste profile. They are contracted for five other sites and made corrections there, as well.”
Craig said that the EMS was cited for one major and three minor discrepancies during the Intertec audit. A few opportunities for improvement (OFI), or recommended actions to prevent findings in the future were also noted.
“Our facility gets continued and repeated high marks for housekeeping,” she said. “This is a hugely meaningful strength in that the corners are clean, no hazmat all over the place, trash and hazardous wastes are clearly labeled, marked and separated. Good housekeeping speaks to many overlapping areas and gives auditors a sense of a tight ship.”
The OHSAS 18001:2007
Like the ISO 14001:2015, COMFRC created an instruction directing FRCSW to follow the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard. From 2014 to 2016, the command has worked to meet the directive.
Certification and conformance to the OHSAS 18001:2007 is overseen by the command’s Safety Management System (SMS) which was formed in 2014.
The SMS operates under three primary components: An internal audit group which includes a second party auditor from National Technology Associates (NTA) for the evaluation of command spaces; an implementation team comprised of wage grade employees, managers, supervisors, and the same top management personnel who oversee the EMS; and a third party (Intertec) verification and registration to the standard.
The SMS established the criteria used in its internal audit.
“When we meet these criteria, we report up to COMFRC and advance through one of three levels. We’re currently at the Bronze level,” said occupational health and safety specialist Chris Gibson.
“We have about 30 people who manage various FRCSW buildings. They are called ‘champions.’ They meet with the safe site leads who are often wage grade employees that serve as shop safety representatives as a collateral duty to monitor the white communication boards throughout the plant that any employee can express their concern on to help clear any road blocks. And if the champion can’t clear it, he’ll go to the CO,” Gibson said.
Gibson noted that the CO holds a monthly SMS meeting which includes an open forum for wage grade artisans to express their issues and concerns.
A successful SMS or EMS rely upon employee compliance within their daily operations, he said, and that conformance to a standard cannot be achieved without it.
“There’s the specialists, managers and supervisors ensuring compliance. The conformance part comes in if the manager or supervisor is absent or transfers, and the employee acts as if they are still there getting that same message across every day.”
Intertec’s recertification visit consisted of five auditors for a day and a half who cited the SMS for one major and four minor discrepancies.
“I’ve updated some internal policies and procedures to address the findings,” Gibson said. “And also changed policies and procedures of how I interact with the second party auditor and that her actions within the FRC are consistent with what the third party (Intertec) is looking for on their visits. The others were routine like updating a form.”
“We needed to prove to them with audits, metrics, graphs and all documentation that we are doing exactly what we say we are going to do,” Gibson added.
Within three years, the SMS must transition from the BS OHSAS 18001:2007 to the ISO 45001.
Meanwhile, both the EMS and SMS are adapting to the ISO’s new Annex SL, a generic outline applicable to all management systems. With its 10 common clauses addressing issues that include operation, support and improvement, the annex is intended to increase consistency within management system structures.
The next Intertec audit for the EMS and SMS is scheduled for April 2019.
Occupational health and safety specialist Chris Gibson, center, inspects an automated external defibrillator in Building 249 as part of the FRCSW Safety Management System’s internal audit program while National Technology Associates auditor Jeanell Bausback and electrician Ruel Dionisio look on.