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How do I Rate my Aspects and Impacts for Significance?

20 April 2016

Last week, we looked at how you can carry out an aspects and impacts assessment.  You can read the blog here.  Once you have identified all of your activities, aspects, impacts and controls, you can start to prioritise areas for action by carrying out a significance rating.  This blog is going to look at how you can do this.

What method do I use?

Rating of significance can be a very subjective exercise and there is no right or wrong way of carrying it out.  The objective of significance rating is to identify areas where your business has the biggest potential of impacting on the environment and focusing your attention there to reduce the impacts.  Any method that you employ should achieve this aim.

It is important that you have a clear, documented methodology that clearly states how you rate significance.  It should be reproducible by anyone and the results of this and future assessments should be consistent.

Simple rating

For organisations with limited environmental impacts, a very simple method can be employed.  This often looks at two parameters, likelihood and severity.  It looks at the likelihood of the aspect occurring.  This is the aspect rather than the activity as most activities you identify will happen all the time and this might not give you valuable information.  You will then look at how severe the impact on the environment will be e.g. the scale of the impact, how long it will last for or whether the impact is reversible.  Normally, you’d rate each parameter as high, medium or low and then come out with overall risk.

More complex rating

That method may not be appropriate for more complex organisations.  You may want to have a scoring system, e.g. 1 – 5 rather than high, medium or low to give further resolution.  You can also consider other things such as legal obligations or financial implications.

Applying controls

Controls are an important part of determining whether something is significant.  Where you apply them is up to you.  You can apply your significance rating before you apply controls and again after controls to show improvement.  Or you can just do a significance assessment after controls are in place.

Determining significance

However you assess significance, you should have some aspects that are more significant than others.  What you determine significant is, again, up to you, but it must be documented.  Particularly if you are using a numerical scale, what number is a significant aspect should be clear.  Following that, you can start to prioritise significant aspects and look at ways of minimising their effects on the environment.

Once you have completed an aspects and impacts assessment, it is important that you rate them so you can identify your biggest risks on the environment and look at ways to minimise those risks.  Significance rating methodology is completely up to an organisation, but it is really important that it is clearly documented so it is reproducible.  You also need to make sure you review your assessment regularly, particularly if activities have changed or if you have implemented new controls.  When did you last review yours?

Last week, we looked at how you can carry out an aspects and impacts assessment.  You can read the blog here.  Once you have identified all of your activities, aspects, impacts and controls, you can start to prioritise areas for action by carrying out a significance rating.  This blog is going to look at how you can do this.

What method do I use?

Rating of significance can be a very subjective exercise and there is no right or wrong way of carrying it out.  The objective of significance rating is to identify areas where your business has the biggest potential of impacting on the environment and focusing your attention there to reduce the impacts.  Any method that you employ should achieve this aim.

It is important that you have a clear, documented methodology that clearly states how you rate significance.  It should be reproducible by anyone and the results of this and future assessments should be consistent.

Simple rating

For organisations with limited environmental impacts, a very simple method can be employed.  This often looks at two parameters, likelihood and severity.  It looks at the likelihood of the aspect occurring.  This is the aspect rather than the activity as most activities you identify will happen all the time and this might not give you valuable information.  You will then look at how severe the impact on the environment will be e.g. the scale of the impact, how long it will last for or whether the impact is reversible.  Normally, you’d rate each parameter as high, medium or low and then come out with overall risk.

More complex rating

That method may not be appropriate for more complex organisations.  You may want to have a scoring system, e.g. 1 – 5 rather than high, medium or low to give further resolution.  You can also consider other things such as legal obligations or financial implications.

Applying controls

Controls are an important part of determining whether something is significant.  Where you apply them is up to you.  You can apply your significance rating before you apply controls and again after controls to show improvement.  Or you can just do a significance assessment after controls are in place.

Determining significance

However you assess significance, you should have some aspects that are more significant than others.  What you determine significant is, again, up to you, but it must be documented.  Particularly if you are using a numerical scale, what number is a significant aspect should be clear.  Following that, you can start to prioritise significant aspects and look at ways of minimising their effects on the environment.

Once you have completed an aspects and impacts assessment, it is important that you rate them so you can identify your biggest risks on the environment and look at ways to minimise those risks.  Significance rating methodology is completely up to an organisation, but it is really important that it is clearly documented so it is reproducible.  You also need to make sure you review your assessment regularly, particularly if activities have changed or if you have implemented new controls.  When did you last review yours?

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