ISO 14001 Consultancy
The benefits of ISO 14001 certification
ISO 14001 is a framework for an Environmental Management System that provides the means of ensuring that a business or organisation considers all the aspects of its operation that either actually or potentially have some impact on the environment. An impact can be resulting pollution but can also relate to consumption of non-renewable resources as well as waste disposal.
In many industries there is also the potential for unplanned or accidental polluting incidents and ISO 14001 mandates some degree of emergency planning for potential risk areas that can be identified in advance.
Unsurprisingly there is a large amount of legislation relating to the environment ranging from waste controls through to the protection of wildlife and the Standard mandates that systems are in place for ensuring that relevant legislation is identified and that compliance is maintained.
ISO 14001 is also used increasingly as a marketing tool to advertise an organisation's environmental credentials to any potential customers or other interested parties.
Preparing for ISO 14001 Certification
The Standard requires its users to define an Environmental Policy statement that must contain specific objectives (or commitments) and be publicly available, however the pivotal record within an EMS will be the Environmental Aspects Register which should list all of the organisation’s environmental aspects and their respective impacts using a grading system to determine their significance. This will then enable management to set some improvement objectives or targets so that the organisation is able to measure any improvements it might make. Objectives may for example relate to reductions in emissions or consumption of natural resources, or perhaps to recycle more.
There is a very large amount of legislation relating to the environment and ISO 14001 requires its adherents to implement a system that allows them to identify and comply with all relevant legislation. This is likely to be the most difficult part of maintaining an EMS as legislation changes occur quite regularly, but there are various on-line resources that can be used.
As with the 2015 revison of ISO 9001, ISO 14001:2015 also requires the organisation to undestand the context in which it operates as well as the expectations of any 3rd parties. And of course risk based thinking regarding the environment is expected to be embedded in the system and the organisation's people.
ISO 14001 also requires the organisation to prepare for any potential emergency situations where these may have an adverse impact on the environment. In an oil refinery for example a plan would exist to cater for major oil spillages in order to prevent widespread contamination, however all organisations will incur some, albeit small scale, risks and so are expected to put in place the necessary preventive actions depending on the scenario envisaged.
The ISO 14001 Assessment
Once the new EMS is implemented and a round of internal audits and management reviews have been conducted an application for assessment can be made with a UKAS accredited Certification Body. Quite often nowadays ISO 14001 is achieved in conjunction with ISO 9001, and sometimes also with ISO 45001, and ideally a combined assessment can be requested as this will be more cost effective than separate assessments for each standard and in any event the documented systems would ideally also be integrated, as is now the intention.
The assessment is again carried out across two stages with Stage 1 intended to ensure that all of the required systems and processes are in place, as well as involving a physical walk-around the site by the Assessor. Stage 2 would normally follow after about four weeks (but sometimes longer) and involves the more in-depth auditing of the management system against the ISO 14001 standard as well as checking that relevant legislation is being adhered to.
All being well the assessor will there and then say that they will be "recommending" the organisation for certification (registration) and the certificate will normally arrive shortly thereafter.
Maintaining ISO 14001
As with ISO 9001 the Assessor will return to carry out surveillance visits (audits) at least once per year, and will expect to see evidence of regular auditing and reviews, and continuing improvements being made to the systems as well as ensuring that any defined environmental performance targets are being met.