The 'checking' elements are the nervous system of an organisation, constantly taking messages and sending readjustments to and from all areas of the system's body.
The more sensitive and responsive the system, the easier the organisation can stay 'on track' with its original objectives.
Relating the P-D-C-A cycle to EMAS environmental management, we find that the P-D-C-A 'check' and 'act' steps are represented by Sections 4.5 and 4.6 of the EMAS regulation.
CHECK and ACT: relevant ISO 14001 sections
Checking and corrective action
4.5.1 Monitoring and measurement
4.5.2 Nonconformance and corrective and preventive action
4.5.4 Environmental management system audit
4.6 Management review
The checking elements may be divided into 'day-to-day' operations and the 'big events' - the periodical environmental management system audits and management reviews.
Monitoring and measurement means that you should think about how you could monitor your significant environmental aspects and the operations related to them. This sub-clause includes requirements to maintain and calibrate your monitoring equipment at appropriate intervals, as well as to regularly evaluate compliance with relevant legislation and regulations.
If you find something that is not in accordance with the plan, you have a nonconformance that needs corrective action, which means not only to correct the situation in the short term, but also to prevent a repetition. Another important point is preventive action, which is any action to prevent potential deviations from happening. These requirements you will find in the nonconformance and corrective and preventive action sub-clause.
The EMAS regulation requires you to identify and look after your environmental records, which include documents that record your physical environmental performance, records required by laws and regulations as well as your operating license and documents that record the performance and progress of your environmental management system.
The environmental management system audit checks conformity of your system against the EMAS management system elements and is one of the most important ways to maintain control of an organisation and to ensure a living management system. Because of their key role, audits are treated in a separate training session.
The same goes for the management review, which is where the top management keeps an eye on performance of the environmental management systems. It makes sense to combine the review with the setting of new objectives and targets, which means that the P-D-C-A cycle is closed, beginning new planning processes.