C1.4.1 Significance of Environmental Aspects and Impacts


ISO 14001 requires that an organisation identify the significant aspects and impacts. These are defined in the standard as:

“A significant environmental aspect has or can have a significant environmental impact”

 © BSI


The principle behind the identification of significant aspects and impacts is that by identifying those that are significant, it allows you to prioritise action to prevent the more significant impacts.

This is the one area of EMS that many organisation over complicate!

Some organisations produce complicating risk ratings to determine significance. In reality, it does not have to be that laborious or complicated.

A common approach is to use an evaluation matrix of some kind. In organisations where the safety person has been allocated responsibility for environmental issues, they commonly use processes similar to existing rating systems used for safety risk assessments. This can work very well.

It is important to remember that:

  • There are many methods of determining significance.
  • It does not matter which approach you take as suitability is different for every organisation.
  • The approach must be applied in a consistent manner.


The following pages provide some examples of different methods.

If you use an Internet search engine to search for “Environmental Aspects and Impacts Register” you will find many examples. Unfortunately copyright permissions prevents their direct inclusion.