An EMS can help you comply with regulations more consistently and effectively. It also can help you identify and capitalize on environmental and business opportunities that go beyond compliance.
EMS has been implemented by organizations ranging in size from a couple of dozen employees to many thousands of employees. The elements of an EMS (as described in this guidance) are flexible to accommodate a wide range of organizational types and sizes.
Much of what you have in place now for environmental management probably can be incorporated into the EMS. There is no need to "start over".
An EMS should improve your efforts to comply with legal requirements, and help improve your credibility and negotiating with regulators and prosecutors should you become subject to enforcement actions. A written EMS can also help demonstrate that company management and the board of directors are taking appropriate steps to ensure compliance and thereby protecting themselves, as well as the company, from potential legal repercussions of inadequate compliance.
While an EMS will not directly result in less stringent legal compliance requirements, it can help indirectly. If, for example, the EMS helps you reduce the volume of hazardous waste generated at your facilities, the EMS can in this way indirectly reduce your compliance obligations because large quantity generators have greater legal requirements than small quantity generators. Finally, you may want to contact your state environmental agency to inquire whether it has a recognition and reward program for facilities that implement an EMS.
No. The concept of continual improvement assumes that no organization is perfect. While an EMS should help your organization improve compliance and other measures of performance, problems may still arise. However, an effective EMS should help you find and fix these problems and prevent their recurrence.