Internal audit is an integral part of ISO 14001-certification process. This audit is a kind of self-assessment that helps an organization to understand how far they are prepared for the final audit held by a third-party certification body. Go through this article to learn how to perform the internal audit for ISO 14001 certification.

How many days are left for the final assessment of your Environmental Management System? If you have already performed the internal audit, then it’s fine. However, if you are yet to conduct the internal audit, this article is the “must read” for you. Here, we are going to discuss how you should arrange an internal audit for ISO 14001 Standard.

Before describing the steps you need to undertake for the internal audit, let me tell you why you should attach great importance to ISO 14001 internal audit.

Why should you consider Internal Audit for ISO 14001?

With the help of internal audit, you will be able to avail real improvement in the standard ISO 14001:2015. You will be able to identify the environmental risks and set out the targets depending on the environmental legislation and key performance indicators or KPIs. The EMS should be measured against these KPIs. Therefore, it is critical to pick the right KPIs suitable for your business.

Through the internal audit, you will get an insight into the performance of your EMS. This insight will let you fill the gap existing within your EMS. This way, you are getting chances of filling the gaps and increasing your chances of gaining the ISO 14001 certification.

Now, let’s consider the five steps associated with the internal audit that can take you to your desired certification.

How to Conduct Internal Audit for ISO 14001 Certification: Five Steps

Schedule the Audit

Be it ISO 45001 internal audit or ISO 14001, the first important thing is having an overall schedule of the audit planning including the time of auditing each process. In most of the cases, the cycle for this takes almost one year. However, you may take more or less time as per your requirements. When your processes have critical environmental aspects, you may schedule an audit more frequently. If you are employing your internal resources for the audit, then inform them in advance and plan the schedule as per their convenience. If you want to outsource the internal auditors, then plan the schedule considering your and their convenience.

Plan the Audit Process

Once the audit schedule is confirmed, the auditors should start their preparation. Review of this process is critical for developing a proper understanding of ISO 14001 Environmental aspects. In this context, you need to understand that an internal audit for EMS differs from the internal audit conducted for QMS. A QMS audit will inspect the process to find out how well it is performing against the plans made for the offerings. On the other hand, an effective ISO 14001 internal audit will try to determine how well the EMS is working against the plans meant for the environmental aspects. A good audit plan will always ensure that all initiatives are taken for proper environmental management.

Perform the Audit

When audit planning is ready, you need to perform the audit. The first thing you should remember is the main purpose of the internal audit. This audit is not for judging the legal compliance of the process. Compliance an audit is no doubt a good idea. However, it is not only a good idea but also a legal requirement in some events. Your internal process should analyze the internal audit in terms of the environmental plans that you have outlined for the environmental process. It is also important to consider whether the environmental aspects are monitored when applicable. Consider whether the non-conformities are correctly addressed or not.

Report the Audit Properly

In most of the cases, the internal audit identifies certain issues or nonconformities. These issues or nonconformities should be properly mentioned in the audit report. The audit report must be detailed. A single glance should be enough for understanding what the organization further needs.

Take Initiatives on Detected Issues

Based on the audit report, the company should take the right initiatives. You should come up with the corrective and preventive actions that may help you rectify the flaws existing within the organization. If you ignore addressing the detected issues, your internal audit would become useless. Always remember that the success of your internal audit will depend on the corrective actions you are considering. Hence, you should decide the corrective or preventive actions cautiously.

Follow these five steps to reach your desired certification- ISO 14001 in the present context

Author's Bio: 

Edgar Somerville has been working with reputed ISO consulting firms for more than 20 years. He has dealt with more than 150 ISO 14001 internal audit assignments. Apart from these, he has dealt with ISO 45001 internal audit as well. His blogs are a true replica of his experiences in the ISO industry.