EMS Consultants and Contractors form an integral part of the Environmental Management System Team. They provide a range of services from the production of specialist reports (including auditing), conducting and reporting on environmental monitoring, to handling specific duties on site such as waste management.
A single Environmental Management System may have multiple consultants and contractors to ensure an EMS meets its intended outcomes. Some consultants may visit your organization on an annual basis while others are there almost daily.
At first, look, managing all these consultants and contractors may seem overwhelming. However, with planning and execution of action plans, they will fit into your organization’s EMS and become one of the team members.
It all starts with the scope of works
A well-written scope of works between your organization and the EMS consultant or contractor will go a long way in setting the boundaries, expectations, and eventually the contract signed between the parties.
The scope should be clear, concise yet detailed to include all requirements, and specific. It reduces the likelihood of ambiguities, presumptions, and misinterpretations. Before writing up a scope, it is always important to include all relevant parties to determine the intended outcomes of the project (whether it is a specialist study or ongoing environmental monitoring).
What a good scope of works will contain:
- An introduction to your organization and project, this will give context to the need and intended outcomes of this relationship.
- The goals of the project. For something like environmental monitoring, the goal may be to conduct monitoring as per compliance obligations.
- The objectives and deliverables that are expected from the consultant or contractor. This is the detailed actual scope of works. For environmental monitoring, these objectives and deliverables may originate from multiple sources or legislation, permits, or other requirements. In this case, do not just refer to these documents, you and your organization must detail exactly what is required. For example, X monitoring will occur monthly, field notes must include x, all samples must be analysed for these determinants when results and reports are expected.
- Timelines and any project schedules.
- Terms and conditions to which your consultant or contractor must adhere to. These legal and other requirements (compliance obligations) will include those that are directly related to the EMS, safety, occupational health, logistics, payment terms, access to information, etc.
- Finally, include any sort of criteria that is needed for signoff of final reports.
Your consultants and contractors form part of your EMS Team
Your EMS consultants and contractors may not be on-site every day, but they form an integral part of the EMS team. And should be treated as any other permanent team member.
Make sure to include them in your department’s or team’s morning meetings, check-ins, or stand-ups when they are one site. There is probably a requirement within your organizations’ health and safety standards for them to conduct this sort of check-ins anyway, but if they can be included within your department meetings it allows you and your department to connect with additional team members and keep track of who is on-site and where they will be.
Update your action tracker to include consultant and contractor deliverables
Update your action tracking software, spreadsheet or calendar to keep track of your consultant and contractor deliverables, as well as the days they are expected to be on site. This is important if they need special site access or other persons in the organization need to be made aware of their presence.
The responsibility of keeping track of consultants and contractors can be delegated amongst the different members of the core EMS team. This is a great way to upskill junior members of the team.
This is a crucial step in the process as duties performed by your consultants and contractors typically arise out of compliance obligations, which determine if your organization is legally compliant or not.
It also helps you and your team manage any unforeseen issues that arise along the way.
Managing disputes with consultants and contractors
Hopefully, because of the detailed scope of works and contracts in place, no disputes between your organization and your consultants or contractors will arise. But if they do, revert to the contract signed between you and the consultant to manage these disputes.
If the disputes arise from differences in opinion (particularly when it comes to specialist reports), its best to have a meeting to discuss and come to a compromise. Usually, when differences in opinion are discussed they are easily resolved.
Remember, your consultants and contractors form part of the EMS team that ensure the intended outcomes of the EMS are met.