sniffer Report: The start of a new beginning for EMS certification?

sniffer Report - Improved Alignment of UKAS-accredited certification bodies’ activities with UK environment agencies’ regulatory processes
sniffer Report – Improved Alignment of UKAS-accredited certification bodies’ activities with UK environment agencies’ regulatory processes

The recent publication of a detailed analysis of the inter-relationships of the Environment Agencies, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), its accredited certification bodies and clients has been completed and published by sniffer (knowledge brokers for a resilient Scotland).

The research project identified and examined the audit approaches of UKAS-accredited certification bodies with regard to formalised management-control systems (limited to ISO 14001 and EMAS).

The project objectives were to:

  • conduct a comprehensive review and obtain a full baseline understanding of UKAS-accredited certification bodies’ current audit processes, including identifying the level of consistency and the differences between the approaches of the Certification Bodies and across a range of sectors;
  • identify opportunities and make recommendations for improving the consistency between/in the approaches used by the UK Certification Bodies;
  • identify opportunities and options for maximising synergies between the environmental regulators and the Certification Bodies; and
  • develop a “position statement” on environmental management systems (EMSs); based on the work supporting the previous objectives) that can be used to help the environment agencies refine their respective position statements and organisational approach to (how to treat) third-party Certification Bodies.

The contents of the report will help the Environment Agencies better understand and improve the effectiveness of actions taken by businesses (under their management control processes) and their Certification Bodies.

Ultimately, it is hoped the outcomes of this research will help the environmental regulators work with the Certification Bodies to improve and ensure there is a positive correlation between UKAS-accredited certification and desirable environmental outcomes. Equally important, is achieving and maintaining legal compliance.

The report makes 35 distinct recommendations for fundamental improvements. It focusses on those management-control systems that are intended to impact positively on legal compliance and environmental outcomes, the correlation between certification audit results and regulatory compliance, and the interactions between these certification bodies and the environmental regulators.

The findings and outputs of this project are viewed as the “first step” to increased engagement and cooperation between the Environment Agencies, UKAS, and the certification bodies.

As a team member on the project, I anticipate that the report will have a significant impact on the development of accreditation processes in the UKAS and its accredited certification bodies and their processes for the auditing and certification of environmental management systems (EMS).

The publication of the report is timely as the development of environmental management systems are “at a crossroads” with the revision of ISO 14001, the drivers from Government to “reduce red tape” and the pressure on the Environment Agencies to use EMS to supplement their inspection systems.

A copy of the final report and position statement can be found at:

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