ISO 14000 Definition
The ISO 14000 environmental management standards exist to help organisations ensure that their operations do not have a negative impact on the environment, that they comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmental requirements, and that they continually improve on these. ISO 14000 is similar to the ISO 9000 quality management in that it also concerns itself with how the product is produced, in other words the process, rather than the product itself. It was revised in May 2004 with the updated standard called ISO 14000:2004.
ISO 14001:2004 is the requirement standard of the ISO 14000 series. It specifies a framework for an Environmental Management System against which an organisation can be certified by a third party.
The standard applies to all types and sizes of organisations and while it does not establish absolute requirements for environmental performance, it does require a commitment to continual improvement and compliance with applicable legislation and regulations.
General Description of ISO 14001
ISO 14001 requires an Environmental Policy to be in existence that outlines the policies of the company to its stakeholders and that is fully supported by senior management. The policy, that provides the direction for the remainder of the Environmental Management System, needs to clarify compliance with the relevant Environmental Legislation and emphasise a commitment to continuous improvement.
The policy statement must be written in language that is easily understood. It should relate to the sites covered by the Management System and should provide an overview and description of the company’s activities.
The preparatory review and definition of the organisation's environmental effects, while not part of an ISO14001 Assessment, will provide an external auditor with valuable information on the company’s methods. The preparatory review will consider all relevant past, present and potential future environmental aspects of activities on the company’s sites. It will also look at all relevant legislation and whether the legislation is being complied with.
The company must state its environmental objectives which are those that have the most environmental impact. These then become the focus areas within the improvement process as well as of the company’s environmental program. The program then lays out the intermediary targets that must be achieved on the way to meeting the objectives. The Environmental Management System provides the detail in the form of procedures, work instructions and controls to ensure that implementation of the policy and achievement of the targets becomes a reality.
Similar to ISO 9000, the Environmental Management System requires comprehensive periodic audits to ensure that it is effective, is achieving its targets and continues to perform in accordance with relevant regulations and standards. The audits are also designed to identify opportunities for improvement.
Finally, there is a requirement for a Management Review of the system to ensure that it is suitable to the organisation and effective in meeting its objectives.
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