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It's All Change for the 3 Main ISO Management Systems Part 2

November 15, 2016

It’s All Change for the 3 Main ISO Business Management Systems!

Part Two – ISO 14001:2015 Quality Management System


Many businesses with ISO 14001:2004 are aware that the new Standard, ISO 14001:2015, is ready to hit the streets and that they have a grace period to transition over or lose their accreditation. Similar to ISO 9001:2015, businesses that already have ISO 14001:2004 have a 3 year transition period to move across to the new standard, the cut-off date is September 2018! Businesses that are now looking to gain accreditation will be using the new Standard.


In this post we quickly look at the main differences that have taken place in the ISO 14001 Management Systems:


ISO 14001:2015 has Ten Clauses instead of Four. There are also 16 mandatory documents and records in the ISO 14001:2015 standard compared to 12 in the ISO 14001:2004 standard.


ISO 14001:2004                                            ISO 14001:2015

0. Introduction                                              0. Introduction

1. Scope                                                       1. Scope

2. Normative reference                                   2. Normative reference

3. Terms and definitions                                 3. Terms and definitions

4. Implementation and Operation                    4. Context of the organisation

                                                                   5. Leadership

                                                                   6. Planning

                                                                   7. Support

                                                                   8. Operation

                                                                   9. Performance evaluation

                                                                 10. Improvement



ISO 14001 has undergone its second revision to ensure it remains relevant in the decades to come. The major changes in the standard are mentioned below.



The 2015 revision of 14001 has been written using the new high level structure, Annex SL, which is shared by all new ISO management systems standards. This will simplify integration when implementing more than one management system.



The revision of ISO 14001 aims to integrate the organisation’s EMS into the core organisational strategy. To this end the following changes have been made:



Top management has been more closely defined, to make the EMS more strategic and integrated into the organisation’s decision-making. Environmental, sustainability and CSR managers will be expected to have more interaction with top management.



There is a requirement to consider environmental impacts throughout the value chain and consideration of life cycle issues (although no requirement for formal Life Cycle Analysis).



The revision introduces the term ‘environmental condition’, which it defines as ‘long-term environmental changes that can affect the organisation’s activities, products and services, requiring adaptation’. This aim is to getting organisations thinking about the environment’s impact on them, rather than the impact they have on the environment, which is considered a significant weakness of the current version of ISO 14001. 



There is a specific requirement to demonstrate how significant environmental risks and opportunities are managed within the supply chain. The organisation will need to show that it has made the link between environmentally driven issues and how they relate to the business, and how the interfaces with the business are managed. 



The revision will require the organisation to more pro-actively consider the need for external reporting on environmental issues and to demonstrate much greater control on how it uses and manages environmental data.



The clause on evaluation of compliance has been strengthened – previously there was a requirement to evaluate compliance, but in the proposed new standard, the requirement is to specify exactly how compliance is evaluated and recorded. 



There is a stronger emphasis on the requirement for continual improvement, with a specific clause in place, in line with the policy set by top management, so there should be less room for misinterpretation. 


All this is intended to make the EMS (and ISO 14001) more meaningful for the business. The revised standard was been published in September 2015.




In our next post we will be looking at ISO 45001:2015 and the changes that will affect businesses already accredited with the old Standard, ISO 18001:2007.


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