Certification for compliance with the standard in the UK is carried out by external certifiers who are formally accredited under a scheme run by UK Accreditation Services (UKAS). ISO 14001 has superseded the British standard, BS 7750, and is strongly supported by the government (DETR) for use by business. Additional guidance on the design and maintenance of an EMS is given in ISO 14004 (see Appendix below).
ISO14001 can help your organisation to:
- reduce costs by making the bottom line your top priority
- reduce energy and use of other resources and minimise waste
- meet Government and Departmental targets for improved performance
- ensure compliance with environmental legislation and regulations
- reduce unforeseen environmental risks eg, escaping fuel into a water course
The main elements of ISO14001:
What problems are common to an EMS ?
- An environmental policy. This should commit you to legislative/regulatory compliance, continual improvement, the prevention of pollution and to appropriate objectives and targets.
- Planning. This covers a review of environmental aspects. Plus: legal and other requirements; objectives and targets; and the setting up of a management programme to achieve them.
- Implementation and operation. This includes management structure, training, communications, documentation, operational control and emergency preparedness. It means providing resources for your staff, defining who does what, identifying training needs, communicating effectively and exerting effective control over the activities relevant to your significant environmental impacts.
- Checking and corrective actions. These are monitoring, corrective action, records and audits. This means: using accurate measurement methods; regularly checking that progress towards objectives and targets is on course; taking action to rectify any non conformance with environmental policy or legal requirements; recording the operation of your EMS; and conducting audits to identify problems and to prove conformity with your requirements.
- Management Review. This is necessary to close the loop. That is, to ensure that the system continues to be suitable, adequate and effective through changes made in the light of experience.
You can spend a lot of effort on bureaucracy which could be better spent on making improvements. Prevent this by:
- building the new procedures into your existing management structure;
- encouraging ownership of the procedures by the staff who are going to carry them out; and
- treating the system as a tool to improve your management rather than just to achieve certification.
ISO 14001 provides you with the structure to define and meet your own performance targets. It does not set them for you.
What are the key steps to setting up an EMS ?
- Obtain the appointment of a director responsible to the main Board for implementing the EMS. You will need to ensure that top management has an understanding of the implications as well as the benefits
- Identify environmental aspects of your organisations activities and related significant environmental impacts. This is best done through a preliminary environmental review conducted by a project team of staff drawn from the key areas of your organisation. It is also useful to compile a formal register of effects. Neither the preliminary review nor the register are requirements of the Standard.
- Record legal and regulatory requirements relevant to your activities.
- Develop an environmental policy - from environmental impacts and relevant legislation etc - with objectives and targets. The objectives and targets should be demanding but achievable.
- Develop a management structure in which responsibilities and resources of those who are to drive the EMS are clearly stated.
- Establish a programme to achieve objectives and targets. Clearly state what each of the actions in the programme is trying to achieve. This is necessary to avoid confusion between those which aim to: (a) obtain an actual improvement; and (b) gain better control or gather further information.
- Develop procedures and training courses to ensure that staff at all levels are aware of the importance of complying with the environmental policy. Use training to give staff a clear idea about their roles under the new system and to equip them with the skills they need to make the system work. The quality and content of the training is important, it should be detailed enough to be relevant to your company's issues and you should be able to upgrade or update it year on year.
- Monitor and measure operational activities, keeping records of any non-compliance with policy or regulations and the actions taken to put matters right. The EMS needs to be self repairing if it is to be successful. Guidance on the auditing of sites is given in ISO 14015 (see Appendix).
- Appoint or train environmental auditors to audit procedures. Auditing will highlight areas of weakness in your system and the strengths that you can build upon. Use them to check whether (a) activities are happening as planned and (b) the system is effective in fulfilling your environmental policy. Guidance on auditing the system is given in ISO 14010, ISO 14011 and ISO 14012 (see Appendix).
- Review the EMS to determine its suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. This strategic review by top level management provides an opportunity to examine the success of the policy and management system in achieving the improvements in environmental performance it was set up to accomplish. Guidance on evaluating environmental performance is given in ISO 14031 (see Appendix).
Where can I obtain further information?
Lloyds Register Quality Assurance
Middlemarch Office Village, Siskin Drive
Coventry CV3 4FJ
Tel: 0800 783 2179
British Standards Institute.
389 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4AL
Tel: 0181 996 9000.
UKAS. National Accreditation of Certification Bodies.
Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0NA.
Tel 0208 943 6311. Fax 0208 943 6664.
ISO STANDARDS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH ISO 14001
ISO 14004 - General Guidance on Principles, Systems and Supporting Techniques. Gives practicable help on the design, development and maintenance of an EMS;
ISO 14010 - General Principles. Defines the scope of the audit and provides a framework for the structure and format of the audit report.
ISO 14011 - Audit Procedures: Auditing of Environmental Management Systems. Explains the planning and conduct of an EMS audit and gives advice, for example, on its objectives, the roles and responsibilities of those involved and the preparation and documentation of the report.
ISO 14012 - Qualifications criteria for Environmental Auditors. Provides guidance on the minimum qualifications for auditors and how to evaluate their suitability.
ISO 14015 - Guidelines of Environmental Site Assessments.
ISO 14031 - Environmental Performance Evaluation. Explains how to identify suitable environmental indicators for measuring performance against policies, objectives and targets.
Terms & Definitions
ISO 14050 - Environmental Management Vocabulary. Summarises the terms and definitions used in the ISO 14000 series of standards.