ISO 14001

What is ISO 14001 - the environmental management standard

ISO 14001 is one standard in a family of standards that exist to help organisations understand how their operations:

  • Affect the environment (positively and negatively)
  • Comply with applicable laws & regulations and
  • Continually improve

Following the success of BS 5750 the British Standard Institute set about creating an equivalent standard focusing on the environmental impacts of a company’s activities.  This standard was called BS 7750 and was originally released in 1994.  Like BS 5750 before, BS 7750 was adopted by the International Standards Organisation renamed ISO 14001 and published in 1996.  Just two years after the BSI launch! 

Essentially, the standard requires the company to look at and assess the environmental impacts of its activities.  Having assessed and understood the scale of the organisation’s environmental impacts, the company would then seek to create objectives and targets in order to improve their organisation performance and reduce their environmental footprint.

How long does ISO 14001 take to get?

The duration for obtaining ISO 14001 is likely to depend on the activities that the company is involved in and how well it currently meets regulatory requirements.  Hopefully, obviously it will be appreciated that obtaining ISO 14001 registration is likely to take longer for a large chemical plant than it would for a small employment agency.

 

Typical duration for obtaining registration would be anything between six months to a year.

What is the process for obtaining ISO 14001?

There are a number of stages in the process of obtaining ISO 14001 and they include:

 

  • Understanding your processes
  • Understanding the environmental impact of your processes
  • Understanding any current regulatory or legislative requirements
  • Developing objectives, targets, policies, procedures and practises in order to reduce your environmental footprint; that is, developing the management system
  • Training relevant staff so they are aware of objectives, targets, policies, procedures and practises
  • Auditing the management system, a checking process to ensure improvements are being made
  • Choosing an accredited ISO 14001 certification body
  • Undertaking the ISO 14001 assessment
ISO 14001

Who needs to be involved in the process?

The people that will need to be involved in an ISO 14001 initiative are likely to depend on the activities that you undertake, but as a general rule is likely to include:

 

  • The senior management team in order to develop and commit to the organisations environmental objectives and targets
  • Relevant heads of core delivery departments; marketing, sales, operations, as they will probably have the best understanding of your environmental aspects and impacts of their departments
  • In order to understand how supporting departments assist in delivering company objectives and targets the department heads of these processes may well also be instrumental; this might include; purchasing, facilities, engineering and maintenance etc

What happens after ISO 14001 certification?

Many companies want to grow and expand which obviously creates a tension with improved environmental performance.  One way to reduce this tension is to think about “normalising” objectives and targets.  That is, to expand you may need to drive greater distances to see more clients using more fuel, so, your absolute fuel consumption will increase.  Normalising your activities would be about reducing the footprint “per person” showing that you are becoming more effective and more efficient.  Setting objectives in this way is often done in a per person basis but also could be normalised via; average monthly sales, number of clients, volume of products or raw materials used, or some other metric specific to your operation.

Clearly, given the certification process you will need to show:

 

  • You are reducing your environmental footprint
  • You are setting and (ideally) meeting your environmental objectives targets and improvements. Alternatively, if not why not?  There are probably good reasons.
  • You continue to learn from problems and issues (nonconformances)
  • You continue to comply with environmental law
  • You are undertaking environmental audits to ensure processes are delivering
  • You are holding management review meetings which drive environmental improvement actions
  • You update and develop the management system in response to any changes

 

Obviously, the chosen assessment agency will also check at least annually that your environmental processes and practises remain in place and robust with an external audit.

 

How can Statius help?

Statius can help with a number of aspects regarding the ongoing development and improvement of environmental management systems, for instance:

 

  • Support at surveillance visits
  • Support in holding management review meetings
  • Actually undertaking environmental management system audits
  • Actually undertaking environmental compliance audits
  • Assisting with environmental problems and issues (nonconformances)

 

In short, Statius can become your internal environmental manager and do as much, or as little as you require, in order to assist with the ongoing development of your management system.