The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is the foundational principle for operating all ISO management system standards, including the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard. 

The management methodology helps organizations continuously improve their processes, make modifications, and manage changing conditions.

But do you know how the framework relates to ISO 14001? Or how should you integrate it with your environmental management system processes?

If you don’t, then this article is for you!

So, read on and discover how the PDCA cycle connects to the clauses of ISO 14001!

Establishing The ISO 14001 EMS With The PDCA Cycle: A Guide!

Plan: The first phase of the PDCA cycle is “Plan.” This stage involves identifying and establishing various parts of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. For instance, clause 4 of ISO 14001 requires you to determine the context of your organization, identify relevant stakeholders, and decide how your operations impact the environment or environmental aspects of your company.

You can complete the planning stage in 12 steps:

  • Explore the context of your organization
  • Secure leadership commitment 
  • Establish an environmental policy
  • Determine the roles and responsibilities of the EMS team
  • Hold kick-off meeting
  • Determine environmental aspects and impacts
  • Identify compliance obligations
  • Prepare budget and secure resources
  • Set environmental objectives and action plans
  • Identify operational controls, monitoring, and measurement needs
  • Define roles and responsibilities for specific environmental tasks
  • Establish required system-level procedures

In the context of the ISO 14001 environmental management system, clauses 4, 5.2, and 5.3, clauses 6.1 and 6.2, as well as clause 7.1, come under the planning stage.

Do: During this phase, your organization will implement various parts of the ISO environmental management system. 

This continuous step applies during the initial implementation as well as the maintenance period. Furthermore, you can utilize this step to detect changes within the EMS since the initial development phase.

Once you have planned the EMS, the “do” stage may include 

  • Providing awareness and training to employees
  • Conduct job-specific employee training
  • Implement plans to meet environmental objectives
  • Execute operational controls
  • Implement the applicable system-level procedures

Clause 8 of the ISO 14001 environmental management system offers an extensive guide to implementing operational controls, creating plans for emergency preparedness, and more, blending with the “do” phase of the PDCA cycle. 

Check: The next stage of the PDCA cycle is “check.” In this stage, you will evaluate various parts of the environmental management system and related processes and procedures to check their performance, accuracy, compliance, relevancy, and effectiveness. 

This phase often involves

  • Monitor, measure, and documentation
  • Conduct internal audits
  • Evaluating compliance
  • Holding emergency drill
  • Management reviews
  • Reviewing EMS policies and procedures

The “check” stage of the PDCA cycle aligns with clause 9 of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. It provides a systematic way to evaluate your EMS.

Act: The last stage of the cycle focuses on fixing and improving the EMS. During this stage, you will

  • Establish and implement corrective actions
  • Determine the status of environmental objectives
  • Update the EMS procedures and policies and communicate them with relevant stakeholders
  • Conduct management review
  • Communicate the success of the EMS

This stage aligns with clause 10 of the ISO environmental management system. The clause advises organizations to continuously improve the EMS with corrective actions and establish records.

Wrapping Up

Implementing the PDCA framework can significantly stimulate your ISO 14001 environmental management system implementation process. It will help you keep track of progress, estimate the next steps, and stay compliant and consistent throughout the process. 

Author's Bio: 

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