ISO 14001 is under review. After its original publication in 1996, this is the first time it’s going through major changes. The review process is currently at the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage, the fourth stage of a six stage process, and the final revised ISO 14001:2015 is due to be published by the end of 2015. Some of the main changes ISO 14001:2004 is undergoing are:
- The first change to ISO 14001:2004 concerns its structure. This revision is based on the ISO Guide 83 (“Annex SL”) which defines a common high level structure, text and common terms and definitions for the next generation of management systems. This structure aims to facilitate the implementation process and the integration of several management systems in a harmonized, structured and efficient manner. Such structure is as follow:
- Normative References
- Terms and Definitions
- Context of the Organization
- Performance Evaluation
- New concepts have been added, such as “supply chain”, “value chain” and “product life cycle” and existing definitions have been modified to give a different emphasis and to improve clarity.
- Two new clauses have been introduced which focuses on an organization’s context. These require organizations to determine the issues and requirements that can influence the scope of its EMS and take them into account.
- There’s a greater emphasis on top management, requiring them to take the lead in integrating the environmental management practices into their organization’s core strategies, processes, and priorities.
- Regarding environmental policy, organization should be committed to protecting the environment rather than just preventing its pollution, as stated in ISO 14001:2004.
- A greater emphasis is placed on an organization determining its own risk profile.
- Organizations are required to control or influence processes and services associated with significant environmental aspects, organizational risks, lifecycle and emergency preparedness.
- There is a greater focus on environmental performance improvement across the value chain.
- The DIS does not include specific requirements for preventive action. The new standard no longer thinks of preventive measures as a separate topic, but rather as a central component of all environmental-related activities.
- Environmental objectives have been given a separate sub-clause with the “planning actions to achieve environmental objectives.”
- The terms “document” and “record” have both been replaced throughout the DIS with the term “documented information”. The DIS states that documented information must be maintained to the extent necessary to have confidence that the processes have been carried out as planned.
It is important to mention that this standard is still under review, and there is still to see which changes will make it to the final revision. However, it’s clear that the overall goal of ISO 14001:2015 is to respond to the latest environmental trends, help organizations improve their environmental performance and prepare them for future environmental challenges.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.