While ISO 14001 is the top international standard for regulating environmental management systems (EMS) in businesses, there are many things that an organization should know before taking the final step. Achieving an ISO 14001 certification seems like a simple one-step process but there are certain questions or worries in the minds of business managers when they take the step. Those doubts generally come up when a business’s management team starts planning for this ISO certification process.

This article discusses in detail those lesser-known concepts regarding the ISO 14001 EMS implementation. After getting this information, you know for sure what to do and how to proceed with the ISO 14001 certification.

Here are the questions businesses ask before seeking an ISO 14001 environmental certification.

Is a Business Already Having an EMS Eligible for Certification?

The answer is loud and clear ‘Yes’. If an organization already has an EMS or just an independent environmental management framework, they can achieve it. They need to just audit their EMS and achieve compliance with the ISO 14001 standard. In such a case, a professional team of ISO consultants can assist. They have a thorough understanding of the ISO 14001 standard’s requirements and can do a comprehensive gap assessment to find the shortcomings in your EMS against the standard. They can provide a detailed analysis report explaining every area or aspect where your present EMS is noncompliant i.e. does not meet ISO requirements. They can also provide you with a checklist of actions that are required to correct all the shortfalls or gaps found.

What is the Process of Transition to ISO 14001:2015?

Organizations having their specific EMS or those having their EMS compliant with ISO 14001:2004 standard have this question in their mind. They both need to transition their EMS to ISO 14001:2015 standard.

In both cases, a gap analysis is the common first step. Once you know the key gaps and measures to take to fill them from the consultants, you need to make a plan with a specific timeline. You also need to decide the key resources required and how much time will take to address each gap. Your organization’s entire management team should be involved and undertake all the activities, starting from planning to arranging resources, to allocating time for the actions.

Following that, you need to make your organization’s members aware of the changes or improvements that are required in your EMS for ISO compliance. To make things easier for them to adopt, provide training and make them understand their roles. You should also make them aware of the auditing process so that they cooperate fully during the audits, which will be performed by the certification body. Auditing is the last step of transition and to get certification. You have to make sure that there are no major non-conforming areas in your EMS by conducting an internal audit.

What Are the Key Changes Observed by Transitioning to ISO 14001?

To answer this, we need to first explain why operating a non-standardized EMS is not as effective in reducing your environmental impacts. ISO 14001:2015 is the latest revision of the standard and covers all latest environmental issues and trends in businesses. Achieving compliance with it can ensure that your company’s internal and external aspects causing environmental harm are controlled. Besides, this latest version of the standard can be integrated with other key management systems.

Here the key improvements you can observe in your EMS with transition to ISO 14001:2015.

• More comprehensive approach to environmental risk management as it considers the entire context of your business operations and related-environmental impacts
• Helps to meet every expectation of the stakeholder
• Established a risk-based approach towards environmental impact management
• Puts more attention on compliance with local environmental legislations
• Gives more scope to meet all environmental objectives and improve sustainable performance

Conclusion

Environmental impact management is crucial for businesses today. It not only helps to protect the surrounding habitats, public health, and other living organisms but also saves the business from multiple risks and costs. The ISO 14001 certification is the key to perfect environmental impact management. Businesses that get certified with this standard can minimize their impacts and accomplish long-term sustainability. The common questions regarding the certification have been cleared up here so that you can seek your EMS certification confidently.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the director and owner of a renowned ISO certification consultancy that assists businesses to get different management certifications including ISO 14001 certification. He is also a dedicated blog writer and writes about general concepts regarding various ISO standards and tips for achieving ISO certification.

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