What is ISO 14001?

In the last 10 years, the world has started to become much more aware of the detrimental affect us humans have on the environment. Although it was slow, there was progress towards a more responsible future, and with the protests, marches and campaigns seen recently in cities across the UK, it would seem that now might be the time to make a move towards a brighter future for your organisation.

ISO 14001 has been in existence since 1992, when it was known as BS7750. Although the standard has always been intended to help organisations become more environmentally responsible, the latest – and probably largest – relaunch in 2015 re-organised the standard and provided greater clarity and accessibility for organisations to certify.

If you’ve been considering implementing an Environmental Management System, and think that ISO14001 might be the way forward, here is some essential information to help with the decision.


Which organisations can certify to ISO14001?

We’re regularly asked what type or size of organisation you have to be to gain an ISO certification – particularly something as specific as Environmental Management. The answer is simple: anyone, any number of employees, anywhere. The 2015 launch of the standard focuses particularly on ensuring the requirements can be applied to any size, type, or set up of organisation. There are provisions for how to demonstrate compliance, even if the organisation consists of one person working from their kitchen. A consultancy such as Assent will certainly have seen it all before and be able to provide the best consultant to guide you through the process with as little discomfort as possible. They will also make sure that you meet the requirements in the way best suited to your organisation; for example, there’s no point having a chemical spillage emergency procedure if you do not handle chemicals!


What does ISO14001 involve?

The main elements of ISO 14001 are the awareness and control of your compliance obligations (such as statutory requirements, legal requirements, and other obligations to which the organisation is committed), emergency protocols (planning and testing your responses to various emergency situations) and the identification and management of your environmental aspects and impacts (the things your organisation does that could have an impact on the environment and the impact your organisation has on the environment).


What do I have to do to get my organisation certified to ISO14001?

As a starting point, you might find it helpful to purchase a copy of the standard. Although it’s not exactly light bedtime reading, it’s the “bible” of ISO 14001 and essentially an instruction manual. Our consultants are trained to work through the standard in a logical way and provide you with step-by-step guidance in completing all the requirements in the best way for your organisation.

If you decide to get a consultant to give you guidance, they will also be able to recommend the best certification body for you. At Assent, we can arrange quotes from three independent certification bodies to save you the legwork, and this is often quicker than trying to arrange the quotes yourself.

Your consultant will also ensure you have covered all the requirements of the standard prior to the first visit by the certificating body – known as a Stage 1 Audit. This is essentially a “starter” audit to ensure that you are ready to go for the full certification audit. Any findings that the certification body raise will be communicated to you, and your consultant will help you make any adjustments in preparation for the Stage 2 Certification Audit. Once the Stage 2 is successfully completed, and providing there are no further findings, your certification will be provided.

So, the process is not quite as daunting as it seems from the outside. ISO certifications are designed to benefit all types and sizes of organisations and can be combined into a unique structure to suit individual needs.

If you’d like to discuss support options, or need some further advice on the whole process, you can get in touch with us here, and we’d be happy to provide guidance to get you on the path to ISO certification.


Kathy Clements
Kathy Clements
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