More and more organisations are now looking at the International Standard for Environmental Management. This overview takes a brief look at the reasons why environmental certification may be appropriate for your company. It also includes details about where to obtain further information.
WHAT IS ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for the environmental management of businesses. It prescribes controls for those activities that have an effect on the environment. These include the use of natural resources, handling and treatment of waste and energy consumption.
THE BENEFITS OF IMPLEMENTING ISO 14001
Implementing an Environmental Management System is a systematic way to discover and control the effects your company has on the environment. Cost savings can be made through improved efficiency and productivity. These are achieved by detecting ways to minimise waste and dispose of it more effectively and by learning how to use energy more efficiently. It verifies compliance with current legislation and makes insurance cover more accessible.
HOW DO YOU START TO IMPLEMENT ISO 14001? WHAT IS INVOLVED?
Firstly, you need to evaluate the effect your organisation has on the environment. You then need to prioritise ways in which you might reduce them. Next, identify the boundaries of your management system and document your procedures for implementing the requirements of ISO 14001. You will need to ensure these procedures are implemented and then audited. If you have ISO 9000 systems in place, many of the requirements of ISO 14001 will already be covered, or can be easily incorporated into them. Once developed, internal audits are needed to ensure the system carries on working. The setting of targets for the environmental policy and continual measuring against it ensures the system is maintained.
WHY SEEK CERTIFICATION TO ISO 14001?
Once you have an environmental management system in place, you may choose to have it externally audited. Following a successful audit by an accredited certification body, you will be issued with a certificate of registration to ISO 14001. This demonstrates that your organisation is committed to environmental issues and is prepared to work towards improving the environment. It also gives a competitive edge to the company’s marketing and enhances its image in the eyes of customers, employees and shareholders.
ASSESSMENT TO ISO 14001
Having chosen a third party accredited certification body for your assessment, it will review your documentation and carry out an initial audit of your site (often called ‘stage 1’). This will look at the company’s evaluation of environmental effects and ascertain if targets set for the management programme are measurable and achievable. This is followed at a later date by a full audit (stage 2) to ensure that records and working practices demonstrate that the company is following its procedures. After a successful audit and the issue of a certificate, there will then be surveillance visits (usually once or twice a year) to ensure that the system continues to work.
WHY CHOOSE ISOQAR FOR YOUR ASSESSMENT?
ISOQAR has an enviable record for customer satisfaction with its certification services. Our environmental audits focus on environmental issues, rather than written documentation. Customers are given support and guidance between the two stages of the audit. ISOQAR’s annual registration fees are amongst the lowest in the industry. In addition, we will provide you with a fixed quotation, free from any additional expenses or disguised costs. ISOQAR only employs auditors that possess a friendly and down-to-earth style to audits. This approachable image has led to ISOQAR’s continual growth through referrals from contented clients and management consultants. Our auditors are also carefully allocated by their experience in the industry they are assessing. This results in a practical, meaningful audit, carried out in an air of mutual understanding.
WHAT IS THE COST OF ASSESSMENT TO ISO 14001?
ISOQAR has produced a guidance price list for organisations seeking registration to ISO 14001. However, there are many variables, such as an organisation’s type and size, and the possible resultant effect it has on the environment. Consequently, we ask you to complete a short questionnaire to help us learn about your organisation. If you prefer, we will happily take these details over the telephone. From this, we can provide you with a fixed, written quotation of the fees involved. Organisations that are ISO 9000 registered with ISOQAR may benefit from reduced annual registration fees for ISO 14001 certification. This is because there are some common elements to the auditing process.
JOINT ISO 14001 AND ISO 9000 SYSTEMS
There are several common elements between the two standards, such as management review, document control, corrective action and the requirement for trained personnel. These can be combined into a single, joint system (together with Health & Safety if desired). Assessment of joint systems is available and may be the most suitable and cost effective approach for some companies.
WHERE TO OBTAIN FURTHER INFORMATION OR HELP
The ISO 14001 standard has guidance information contained in it. In addition, ISO 14004 contains general guidance on principles and systems. These and other publication are available from The Stationery Office’s (formerly HMSO) bookshops. Details of your nearest shop should be in the phone book. Otherwise you can call its ISO Standards office on 020 7242 6410. Mention ISOQAR for a 10% discount. Standards can also be downloaded from www.bsi-global.com/bsonline. The International Standards Organisation’s (ISO) own website at www.iso.ch also has information about ISO 14001. Click on the site map and/or follow the ISO 14000 links.
Environmental awareness training courses
Environmental awareness training courses are readily available, as are courses about how to put together your own Environmental Management System. Alternatively, you can purchase software to help with the implementation process. One good example of this can be viewed at www.business-in-21.com. This tends to be regional so you will need to talk to your local Chamber of Commerce or similar government organisation.
The route to Registration
Having implemented your environmental management system, the next step towards certification is to complete a questionnaire and return it to us. We need this information to understand the main elements of your business and the interaction you have with the environment. Also to ensure that we identify the correct knowledge, expertise and time needed for the audit. Following receipt of your questionnaire we will send you a detailed quotation.
This gives you the cost for the audit and details of what to do next if you would like us to carry out your audit. An audit to ISO 14001 is in two stages.
STAGE 1 AUDIT
This is a significant part of the audit process that establishes that your environmental management system meets the requirements of ISO 14001. This stage of the audit always takes place at your premises because it looks at the site, surrounding areas as well as the documentation. Normally at Stage 1 we look at your method of identification of environmental aspects and the completeness of the identification. We look at your policy, the relevant legislation, your internal audits and the results of these, the training of your staff in environmental issues as they affect them in their normal jobs, the testing of your emergency plans, what objectives have been set and the targets for these. We also check that the documentation meets the requirements of the standard. So, the Stage 1 Audit includes us looking at:
- The compliance of your documentation to the requirements of ISO 14001.
- Your internal environmental audits, to establish that they have been done and to determine how much reliance we can place on them during our audit. For example, if you have only carried out one set of audits then we can only place limited reliance on them, but if you have evidence of several rounds of successful environmental audits over a longer time frame we can place more reliance on them.
- Your management reviews and the results of these.
- The aspects you have identified, that they are specific for you and the method used for determining their significance. We then review them against activities being carried out on site to verify their completeness.
- Current processes, records of past processes and any future planned processes on site to ensure that relevant aspects of these have been identified.
- Your identification of relevant legislation to ensure that there have been no obvious omissions.
- If you have permits or licences for operating on the site we look at those to ensure that they have been addressed within your system.
- Activities outside the scope of the environmental management system that are carried out on your site by yourselves or other organisations. Also adjacent sites which may affect your site, to ensure that you have considered the potential effects of these.
- Whether staff awareness training has been carried out or there is a programme for carrying it out.
- That you have addressed the requirement in relation to contractors and/or subcontractors, and identified the scale of their involvement on your site.
- Establishing that by the time the Stage 2 Audit happens you have tested your emergency plan.
- Checking that your objectives have been identified and relate to your aspects and their relevant significance.
We compile a detailed report and identify non-conformances if necessary to show any areas that are not compliant. A time frame is agreed for rectifying them, as well as the method of evaluating their compliance before the Stage 2 Audit takes place. A plan is raised for the Stage 2 Audit.
STAGE 2 AUDIT
We audit on-site practice and the records to ensure compliance with ISO 14001 and your environmental management system. During the audit we:
- Follow audit trails through the policy, aspects identified and objects set to the actual practices in the various areas of your operation.
- Look at responsibilities at all levels in the organisation, communications within and outside the organisation, any complaints and non-compliance with permits, regulations etc.
- Look at all the departments of your business and the relevant procedures that apply to them.
- We raise non-conformance reports where there are problems and agree corrective actions and timescales with you. At the close of the audit, the Lead Auditor will leave his/her recommendation with you.
Following the audit, the auditor’s report goes before the independent ISOQAR Board for review. We also review the corrective actions you have implemented to resolve any non-conformances raised. On satisfactory completion of these two activities a certificate will be issued.
ISOQAR's certification is valid for a period of three years and is monitored at regular intervals by a registered auditor with environmental experience. All visits to your company are by appointment, thereby ensuring availability of relevant personnel. Please note that all audits are performed on the basis of limited sampling. If discrepancies are not discovered, there is no guarantee that they do not exist.
EXTENSION TO SCOPE OF CERTIFICATE
Amendments or extensions to the initial certified scope can be undertaken if an organisation wishes to introduce new processes or alter existing processes. Questionnaires to obtain a quotation for this can be supplied on request.
Following certification your company can display the ISOQAR shield of approval. If your company operates within ISOQAR's accredited scope you can also display the UKAS Accreditation Mark (often referred to as the 'Crown and Tick') or the RAB mark if appropriate.
RULES FOR APPEAL
In the event of an audit which results in a recommendation not to approve registration to the standard (or at a later stage if notified that a certificate is to be withdrawn) a written appeal may be sent to the Chief Executive of ISOQAR. All appeals will be heard by an Appeals Panel selected from the Governing Board. Your company has a right to object to any member forming part of the chosen panel. The Governing Board will then select a different panel. If the appeal is upheld, the findings of the Auditor will be overruled. If the Auditor is found to be correct, your company will be required to pay for a partial or full re-audit and the cost of the appeal. Such appeals are exceptionally rare.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - Integrated Management Systems
We are pleased to audit integrated systems, providing that all the relevant requirements of the ISO 14001 standard have been covered. There are some areas where the integration of systems is an advantage, for example, having only one document control system. There are some items that are only included in one of the standards. For example, communication with interested parties is currently only a requirement of ISO 14001. There are some areas where integration can be made, but care must be taken that the system or activity does not favour one standard over another. For example, combined audits for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 need to ensure that both quality and environmental areas are audited and reported. Some documents from a health and safety system can also be combined into a joint system. Often specific job instructions covering health and safety requirements can be expanded to cover environmental requirements. For example, instructions for clearing up a spillage can be expanded to cover the prevention of the spillage extending to cause a contamination of the environment and the disposal of the cleaning materials, thus addressing some environmental requirements.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - Linked companies and sites
It is possible to have an overall environmental system for a company operating on several sites, but the policy, aspects and objectives etc. will need to be considered in relation to each site as there will be substantial differences due to the location and surroundings of the site. The option of some overall company policy items and objectives etc. with some site specific ones is a useful compromise. To meet the requirements of ISO 14001 it is essential that the management of the sites has an input into the overall parent company policy and objectives.