Do you know and Use the Five Types of ISO Documents?

Many users associate ISO with the publication of ISO 14001:2015, but don’t realise that ISO 14001 is only one of five types of ISO documents that are available to help you develop your Environmental Management System.

Could these other types of ISO documents help you with your environmental management and sustainability?

While ISO is best known for its International Standards, such as ISO 14001:2015, it has other documents that they publish, which you may not realise exist.

Here are the five types of documents developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO):

International Standards (IS)

An International Standard provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or for their results, aimed at achieving the optimum degree of order in a given context. It can take many forms.

Apart from management systems standards, other examples include product standards, test methods, codes of practice and guideline standards.

Examples of International Standards are:

Technical Specifications (TS)

A Technical Specification addresses work still under technical development, or where it is believed that there will be a future, but not immediate, possibility of agreement on an International Standard.

A Technical Specification is published for immediate use, but it also provides a means to obtain feedback. The aim is that it will eventually be transformed and republished as an International Standard.

An example of a Technical Specification is:

An example of a Technical Specification, which has transitioned to a full International Standard is:

Technical Reports (TR)

A Technical Report contains information of a different kind from that of the previous two publications. It may include data obtained from a survey, for example, or from an informative report, or information on the perceived “state of the art”.

An example of a Technical Report is:

Publicly Available Specifications (PAS)

A Publicly Available Specification is published to respond to an urgent market need, representing either the consensus of the experts within a working group, or a consensus in an organization external to ISO.

As with Technical Specifications, Publicly Available Specifications are published for immediate use and also serve as a means to obtain feedback for an eventual transformation into an International Standard. Publicly Available Specifications have a maximum life of six years, after which they can be transformed into an International Standard or withdrawn.

An example of a Publicly Available Specification, which has transitioned to a full International Standard is:

International Workshop Agreements (IWA)

An International Workshop Agreement is a document developed outside the normal ISO committee system to enable market players to negotiate in an “open workshop” environment and are, normally, administered and supported by an ISO Member.

The published agreement includes an indication of the participating organizations involved in its development. An International Workshop Agreement has a maximum lifespan of six years, after which it can be either transformed into another ISO deliverable or is automatically withdrawn.

An example of an International Workshop Agreement is:

Where to get International Standards or any of the four other ISO Documents?
Each of the five different types of ISO Documents referenced in this article can be readily obtained online from ISO or National Standards Bodies, such as ANSI (USA), BSI (UK), Standards Canada & Standards Australia, available from the respective websites.

Standards BodyWebsite
Standards Canada
Standards Australia

I hope that this episode has given you an insight into types and coverage of the different types of ISO Documents, that can be used to support your Environmental Management System based on ISO 14001:2015 & add value to your environmental performance.

If you have any questions about this article, please leave a comment below.

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