Has ISO 14001:2015 stalled?

Has ISO 14001:2015 certification stalled?

The demand for ISO 14001:2015 certification may exceed the ability of certification bodies, their auditors and independent environmental consultants to keep up with the demand in the final 11 months until 14 September 2018.

Earlier in September, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published their annual survey of certifications to Management System Standards, such as ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015, which highlighted solid growth of 8% for ISO 14001 certification & 7% for ISO 9001 certification. This growth has been reported widely by ISO in the Survey’s Executive Summary and received limited publicity from the environmental media with only the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) publishing its views in an article “Latest ISO 14001 Data Shows Global Growth” on the ISO survey.

What has been less reported even absent from the traditional environmental media is the low number of organisations, who have made the transition to ISO 14001:2015.

The most recent figures (as at 31 December 2016) show that only 23,167 ISO 14001:2015 certificates have been issued globally against a majority of 323,023 ISO 14001:2004 certificates. This means that only 6.7% of organisations have made the transition based on the number of certificates & with only 19 months to go from the survey date (31 December 2016).

A similar situation exists for ISO 9001:2015 certification, where only 80,596 organisations have made the transition against 1,025,761 organisations, who still retain ISO 9001:2008 certification. As a percentage, only 7.3% of organisations have updated their ISO 9001 certification to the 2015 edition.

Current status of ISO 14001:2015 & ISO 9001:2015 certification (as at 31 December 2016)
Current status of ISO 14001:2015 & ISO 9001:2015 certification (as at 31 December 2016)

This low number of transitioned organisations places undue pressure on certification bodies and their auditors to keep up with the workload. Whilst many organisations are likely to transition at their next audit in 2017 and 2018, there will be a significant number that may not meet the requirements of the International Standards & will require further review of their non-conformities and even additional audits.

These pressures for additional auditing can affect the ability to certification bodies to manage their auditing resources to meet client demand and could lead to an impact on the integrity of the certification and auditing process.

I remain optimistic that a large number of organisations will make their transition successfully but we, all, should share in a concern that the integrity of the certification and auditing process could be affected.

Don’t delay your ISO 14001:2015 transition work with your in-house environmental resources or independent environmental consultant to update your Environmental Management System (EMS) and open up a dialogue with your certification body to fully plan and achieve a successful transition audit.

If you have any comments on the analysis in this article or want to share your experiences of your ISO 14001:2015 transition, please leave a comment.

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