ISO Certification

Requirements of ISO 14001

The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) standard is one of the most popular ISO standards.

More and more organisations adopt this system as individuals, businesses and governments become increasingly aware of the importance of their role in protecting the environment. Additionally, businesses are realising that ISO 14001 certification can have a beneficial financial impact.

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An introduction to ISO 14001

There are a few things you can do to familiarise yourself with the basics of ISO 14001:

Book a place on an ISO 14001 training course. If you go on the one day ISO 14001 Foundation Course, you’ll learn about the main clauses of the standard.

Download our free Guide to the Requirements of ISO 14001it’s a plain English interpretation of the ISO 14001 standard and is essential reading if you’re serious about implementing the system.

Watch our webcast introducing the concept, benefits and requirements of ISO 14001.

  • Clause 1 – Scope

    This describes the scope of the ISO 14001 standard. It doesn’t outline any actual requirements.

  • Clause 2 – Normative References

    This clause identifies other standards and documents that relate to and are referenced within ISO 14001.

  • Clause 3 – Terms and Definitions

    This explains certain key words and phrases that are used throughout the standard. It helps you understand some of the jargon.

  • Clause 4 – Context of the Organisation

    Here is where you build a picture of the business environment in which you operate. You need to understand this before you can start to build your system as it sets the parameters for everything that follows.

    • Determine the relevant external and internal factors that affect your organisation
    • A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis may prove useful
    • Additionally, in the case of an EMS, a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis is particularly useful
    • You should identify everyone with an interest in your business such as staff, suppliers, clients – known as ‘stakeholders’. With ISO 14001, it’s probably more crucial than for other standards because the impact of your activities can be so much further reaching, in fact they can be global.
    • You must also consider your compliance obligations – the laws and regulations which you must abide by
    • You also need to determine the ‘scope’ of your system; that is, for example, what sites and activities will be covered by your EMS
  • Clause 5 – Leadership and Commitment

    An EMS won’t work without commitment from top management. This is key to the success of your system and auditors will look for evidence of this.

    • Top management must be directly involved and take overall responsibility
    • They should develop an Environmental Policy
    • Top management must ensure continuous improvement
    • Roles and responsibilities must be clear

  • Clause 6 – Planning

    This clause involves identifying actions to address risk and opportunities. Risk-based thinking is a key principle of ISO 14001, something with which you will be familiar if you have the ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety Management System. One of the best ways to set about doing this is to establish an Environmental Aspects & Impacts Register.

    • ‘Aspects’ are the things you do that affect the environment
    • ‘Impacts’ are the outcomes of ‘aspects’
    • Identify your obligations including your contractual obligations
    • Put the above into the register

    You now need to develop processes to address the issues you identify in the register and set objectives for your organisation. The objectives should be consistent with your Environmental Policy.

  • Clause 7 – Support

    You need to take steps to ensure that the EMS is given the appropriate support from top management to enable it to function effectively.

    • You need to make sure that the system is adequately resourced
    • Employees must be aware of the EMS and their role within it
    • People must be competent in their roles
    • You must have effective communications in place
    • You need to keep appropriate documentation to allow the system to function effectively (but this need not be burdensome)

  • Clause 8 – Operation

    This is where your system comes to life. This clause is about the day-to-day activities that produce the products and services to deliver to your customers.

    • Make sure what you do will result in the desired outcomes
    • Information security risk assessments should be done at planned intervals
    • The information security risk treatment plan must be implemented
    • Outsourced processes must be controlled
  • Clause 9 – Performance evaluation

    The only way to tell if your EMS is working and you are raising standards is to measure what you do.

    • Determine what needs to be monitored, how to monitor and when
    • You must carry out internal audits
    • The results must be measured, analysed and evaluated
    • Top management must review the system and performance

  • Clause 10 – Improvement

    You must put things right when they go wrong. This is ‘corrective action’ which leads to continual improvement. This underpins the concept of ISO 14001 and all ISO management systems.

    • Identify nonconformities and take corrective action
    • Eliminate causes of nonconformity to prevent recurrence
    • Make changes to the EMS itself if needed
    • Aim for continual improvement of the EMS
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