Tim's Blog

Do I need a "legal register" in my Environmental/Safety Management System?


Many clients have come to us seeking a “legal register”, many thinking there was a prescribed format for the register. There is no prescribed format. In fact, none of the HSE management standards even mention a “legal register”. So what’s the story?



Let’s start with what the 14001 (new and old version), 4801 and 18001 standards require in regard to your legal requirements (compliance obligations).


You must:


  • know all applicable legal (and other) requirements and update that knowledge
  • apply (relate) them to your hazards/aspects/organisation
  • take your obligations into account in many parts of your EMS/SMS
  • communicate legal requirements to staff and interested parties
  • comply with legal requirements (or be addressing any non-compliances)
  • conduct periodic compliance audits against these requirements
  • raise significant changes in legislation at management reviews


How you achieve this is up to you. You do need your legal requirements documented (listed) because they are used as a checklist in more than just internal compliance audits.





Here are three approaches to getting together a “list” of your legal requirements:


Method 1: Subscribe to a legal obligations service (eg. our EnviroLaw and SafetyLaw products) which provides summaries with regular updates. This will satisfy some of the above requirements, and will provide the information you need to comply with the other requirements without the need for a formal “legal register”.


Method 2: Create a comprehensive “legal register” and populate it with copied extracts from the legislation or hyperlinks to legislation sections from Parliamentary websites. These extracts/links might be arranged by topic, aspect, hazard or risk. This register will need to be updated regularly. By the way, compiling a simple list of legislation names may satisfy some certification auditors if your risks are minimal, but such a list is not useful for auditing (or for much else).


Method 3: Proceed as with Method 2 but, rather than creating a separate legal register, copy and paste the legislation details or extracts directly into your aspects register or hazard register.



A list of your legal requirements is a useful checklist and source of information in most elements of an EMS/SMS


For example, your list is useful:


  • as a checklist to ensure you have identified all your aspects/hazards
  • when designing operational controls and drafting work instructions
  • when writing your emergency plan
  • as a source of information when developing training materials
  • as a source of monitoring and notification requirements
  • as audit criteria for legal compliance audits
  • when compiling your document/records retention schedule.


Legal requirements are perhaps the most important information in your Environmental/Safety Management System


Article by Tim Hamilton – Copyright 2016