Transition Guidance for ISO 14001:2015

Following on from my earlier post on the Transition Guidance for ISO 9001:2015, I am aware that the IAF (International Accreditation Forum) have sent a similar transition document for a ballot, which will close on 13 February 2015.

The current draft IAF Informative Document follows a similar structure will an introduction section highlighting the emerging changes as follows:

Strategic Environmental Management
There is an increased prominence of environmental management within the organisation’s strategic planning processes. A new requirement to understand the organization’s context has been incorporated to identify and leverage opportunities for the benefit of both the organization and the environment. Particular focus is on issues or changing circumstances related to the needs and expectations of interested parties (including regulatory requirements) and local, regional or global environmental conditions that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. Once identified as a priority, actions to mitigate adverse risk or exploit beneficial opportunities are integrated in the operational planning of the environmental management system.

To ensure the success of the system, a new clause has been added that assigns specific responsibilities for those in leadership roles to promote environmental management within the organisation.

Protecting the environment
The expectation on organisations has been expanded to commit to proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, consistent with the context of the organisation. The revised text does not define ‘protect the environment’ but it notes that it can include prevention of pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.

Environmental performance
There is a shift in emphasis with regard to continual improvement, from improving the management system to improving environmental performance. Consistent with the organization’s policy commitments the organization would, as applicable, reduce emissions, effluents and waste to levels set by the organization.

Lifecycle thinking
In addition to the current requirement to manage environmental aspects associated with procured goods and service, organisations will need to extend their control and influence to the environmental impacts associated with product use and end-of-life treatment or disposal. This does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment.

The development of a communications strategy with equal emphasis on external and internal communications has been added. This includes a requirement on communicating consistent and reliable information, and establishing mechanisms for persons working under the organization’s control to make suggestions on improving the environmental management system. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organization but the decision needs to take into account information reporting required by regulatory agencies and the expectations of other interested parties.

Reflecting the evolution of computer and cloud based systems for running management systems, the revision incorporates the term ‘documented information’, instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. To align with ISO 9001, the organisation will retain the flexibility to determine when ‘procedures’ are needed to ensure effective process control.

Firstly, ISO 14001:2004 certifications will not be valid after three years from publication of ISO 14001:2015 & the expiry date of certifications to ISO 14001:2004 issued during the transition period will need to correspond to the end of the three-year transition period.

Organisations using ISO 14001:2004 are recommended to take the following actions:

  1. Identify organisational gaps which need to be addressed to meet new requirements.
  2. Develop an implementation plan.
  3. Provide appropriate training and awareness for all parties that have an impact on the effectiveness of the organisation.
  4. Update existing environmental management system (EMS) to meet the revised requirements and provide verification of effectiveness.
  5. Where applicable, liaise with their Certification Body for transition arrangements.

Readers of this post should be aware that the current Informative Document is out for ballot and there is a potential for changes in the final version.

Once the final version is published, I will provide full information to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information upon which to base your own transition on the IAF guidance.

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