Are Internal Audits required each year?

Are you, an Environmental Auditor or a Senior Manager struggling to understand whether ISO 14001:2015 has an annual requirement for an EMS Internal Audit?

An ISO Interpretation could help you more fully understand whether internal audit is an annual requirement.

This article looks at one of the interpretations given by the ISO Technical Committee, TC 207 Sub-Committee 1, which is the Sub-Committee responsible for ISO 14001:2015 and other associated environmental International Standards.

The interpretation process operates as an escalation of an interpretation enquiry from a National Member Body, such as BSI in the UK and ANSI in the United States. All interpretation enquiries are reviewed on an annual basis and their results published on the Sub-Committee 1 website.

It is important to note that its interpretations do not change the requirements in ISO 14001:2015 but are intended to give users a better understanding on ISO 14001.

The question about internal audit was raised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and relates to the intent of Clause 9.2.2. The question asked was:

A quick recap on Clause 9.2.2 in its first part shows that it has requirements for the organization shall establish, implement and maintain an internal audit programme, which shall include the frequency, methods, responsibilities, planning requirements and reporting of its internal audits.

Additionally, the internal audit programme shall take into consideration the environmental importance of the processes concerned, changes affecting the organization and the results of previous audits.

So, back to the answer to the question…

It gives an emphatic answer. No.

It restates that Section 9.2.2 requires an organization to establish the frequency of its environmental management system audits. So, it is the responsibility of the organisation to set the frequency for the internal audit.

It further clarifies that the “frequency” is not defined by ISO 14001:2015. as there is no explicit requirement for the internal audit to be conducted on an annual basis unless the organisation wants to set that frequency, itself.

So, to summarise:

The ISO TC 207 Sub-Committee 1 interpretation clarifies that there is no explicit requirement for the frequency of the internal audit to be on an annual basis. The organisation, itself, has the freedom to determine the frequency of the internal audit.

If this article has helped to advance your understanding of the internal audit requirements in ISO 14001:2015, you should start by download the ISO Interpretation document here

I hope that this content will help to advance your understanding of the internal audit requirements in ISO 14001:2015. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

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