Certification Preparation Steps and Benefits of ISO 14001 EMS Implementation
An environmental management system (EMS) is implemented to help an organisation identify, manage, and control their impact upon the environment.
Relevance of ISO 14001
ISO 14001 focusses on the implementation and maintenance of an environmental management system. For certification purposes, organisations must meet the requirements of ISO 14001. Below are the basic steps needed to ensure correct implementation for certification purposes:
Step 1: Get Full Support from Management
It is essential to ensure executive level involvement in the setting up and implementation of the ISO 14001-compliant EMS. Unless management is committed to compliance, the rest of the organisation will not be able to be, since the policy and procedures of the organisation must be aligned with the requirements of the international standard.
Step 2: Identification of Legislative Compliance Needs
It is important to identify and meet the legislative requirements in South Africa regarding environmental management, as the standard also requires this.
Step 3: Define the Scope of the Organisation’s EMS
This step is important to understand the limits of the EMS, gain insight as to the requirements, and what the organisation must do to ensure compliance. It is essential to avoid a situation where certain areas of the business operation are not included in the EMS, which can affect the environment. For this purpose, an environmental policy must be drafted.
Step 4: Identify and Define the Procedures and Processes
The next step is to properly identify all procedures that must be followed and processes that must be completed for consistency and to prevent harm to the environment. It also is important to ensure that the responses needed in relation to emergencies are well documented.
Step 5: Implementation of the Above
Decide which procedures and processes must be documented to prevent harm to the environment and implement the various procedures and processes. Many may already be in place in the organisation and may only need a few changes to ensure compliance.
Step 6: Awareness Programmes and Employee Training
Employees and management must receive training in what ISO 14001 entails, what the legislative requirements are for environmental management, and relevant employees must be trained in conducting internal EMS audits. Awareness programmes must be developed and implemented to ensure that every employee knows their role and how to respond to emergencies, what must be done, and what may not be done.
Step 7: Prepare for ISO 14001 Certification
Let WWISE perform a GAP analysis to identify shortcomings regarding compliance.
Step 8: Take Corrective Action
Make the necessary improvements to ensure compliance.
Step 9: Preliminary Assessment
Have the preliminary assessment conducted to ensure that all compliance requirements are met.
Step 10: Certification Assessment
The certification agency conducts the formal assessment and reports on it. Certification is awarded when all compliance requirements are met.
Step 11: Maintenance and Ongoing Improvement
As with the other ISO standards, such as ISO 9001, it is essential to have regular management reviews and to ensure ongoing improvement of the EMS. For this, we also recommend making use of our expertise in setting up and managing the maintenance plan.
The four phases for certification purposes entail:
- Creation of the environmental policy by management.
- Planning of procedures and maintenance related to activities or products that can affect the environment.
- Implementing and operating the EMS with clear identification of goals and roles.
- Assessment and corrective action, which entails measurement of performance, taking the necessary steps to improve upon these, and to reduce impact on the environment.
Why Compliance and Certification are Beneficial
The organisation ensures compliance with legislative environmental requirements and is thus less at risk of having to pay penalties for violation of regulations. In addition, compliance with ISO 14001 helps the organisation reduce its environmental impact. Certification holds the benefit of documented evidence of the organisation’s commitment to responsible environmental management. It also can be used in marketing efforts to gain additional business revenue, as many international trading partners require their business partners and vendors to be ISO 14001 EMS-certified.
Customers gain confidence in the organisation’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact. It also helps the organisation reduce the risk of its products or processes negatively affecting the environment. The organisation furthermore benefits from the improved image associated with responsible environmental management.
WWISE offers training, assistance in setting up, and implementing the ISO 14001 EMS, preparing for certification, setting up the maintenance plan, and integrating the EMS with your organisation’s existing management systems.