As part of the publication of ISO 14001:2015, the ISO TC207 Sub-Committee SC1 agreed an Interpretation Process at their plenary meeting in New Delhi, India on 10 September 2015.
Their resolution has gone, largely, unnoticed until now but it has wider implications for users of ISO 14001:2015, whether they are certified organisations, environmental managers and professionals, certification bodies or auditors.
There was a significant level of consultation in the three years lead-in period to the publication of ISO 14001:2015, which led to much debate and a development of a common understanding of the new terms, such as life cycle perspective, and the new requirements, such as context and scope of the organisation & leadership.
However, over the coming years, there is likely to be area that require a consistent and agreed interpretation of the requirements of ISO 14001:2015. So the ISO TC207 SC1 agreed an Interpretation Process.
To be fair, ISO and its member bodies have operated an interpretation process for the past versions of ISO 14001. However, these were not so widely known &, as a consequence, users of the International Standard may not have made applications for interpretation in the past.
The first point of contact for any interpretation is the local National Standards Body (NSB), such as BSI in the United Kingdom. The NSB may choose to answer the request itself, use of a national process established for the purpose or make a direct request to the ISO TC207 SC1 Sub-Committee. It is understood that the UK national experts involved in the revision of ISO 14001 will be part of this national process to add consistency to any interpretations.
All requests received by NSBs and their answers will be forwarded to the Secretary of ISO/TC 207/SC 1 at the same time as the response is given to the initiator of the request for interpretation.
All requests received and responses given by NSBs will be included in a compilation of all interpretations and circulated to SC1 members by the SC1 Secretariat and reviewed at their annual Plenary Meetings of ISO/TC 207/SC 1. The SC1 plenary meeting will have the opportunity to review all interpretation information received and consider, if any interpretation is at variance with the views of the SC1 and advise the NSB.
The SC1 Secretary will advise all SC1 members, ISO/CS, ISO/CASCO and IAF of all requests received and responses given and will ensure that all such information is used as input into the revision process when ISO 14001:2015 is reviewed. Additionally, the SC1 Secretary can make provision for wider dissemination of the formulated SC1 position on any given interpretation.
ISO TC207 SC1 will make its interpretation process and the annual compilation of
interpretations after its review by the SC1 plenary meetings available on the SC1 website.
It will remain to be seen how many and what type of interpretation requests are made of the NSB and of the ISO TC207 Sub-Committee SC1.