ARC Management Systems

ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems


The ISO 14001 standard was developed to assist organizations to identify, manage and control the activities that have an environmental impact. ISO 14001 has been embraced by utility and public bodies, service organizations and industrial companies worldwide as the model for environmental management and improved performance.

ISO 14001:2004 may be used by any organization regardless of its sector or activity. Using ISO 14001:2004 can provide assurance to the company management and employees. It can also provide assurance to external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.

In 1996 the ISO 14001 standard was published by ISO and was then revised in 2004 and is compatible with other standards such as the widely used ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard.

ISO 14001:2004 has the following companion standards:

  • I.S. EN ISO 14005:2011
  • I.S. EN ISO 14004:2004
  • I.S. EN ISO 14031:2000

Benefits of Implementing ISO 14001

The benefits of the standard for your organization include:
  • Strengthened stakeholder confidence – ISO 14001 reduces risk of liability, keeps ahead of legislation and regulatory developments and reduces the environmental burden through elimination, reduction and options
  • Greater competitive advantage – your organization would achieve improved cost control, improved organizational effectiveness and image of organization
  • More secure long term viability – environmental management standard facilitates effective management, demonstrates environmental focus and introduces change in a controlled manner
  • Employee involvement and motivation – ISO 14001 demonstrates innovation and forward thinking approach to customers and prospective employees. It clearly defines employees’ functions and establishes environmental awareness and clear methodologies
  • As ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised standard, when businesses are operating in numerous locations around the world they can register as 14001 compliant. This eliminates the need for multiple registrations or certifications. ISO 14001 can also reduce trade barriers between registered businesses.
  • Other benefits of using ISO 14001:2004 can include reduced cost of waste management, savings in consumption of energy and materials, lower distribution costs, and improved corporate image among regulators, customers and the public.
  • Other benefits of ISO 14001 include: strengthened stakeholder confidence, greater competitive advantage, more secure long term viability and employee involvement and motivation

Fundamental Elements of ISO 14001

The critical elements of an environmental management system are:

Defining environmental aspects

  • Analysing relevant environmental impacts
  • Removing the impacts
  • Improving environmental performance

The ISO 14001 states that where the organization operates should be where the concern for the environment should be concentrated such as with air, water, land, fauna, flora and human interactions. Clearly defining and differentiating between activities, associated aspects and the resulting environmental impacts is crucial to any effective environmental management system however this causes lots of companies difficulty quite often when initially developing their system. The above aspects should be dealt with greater significance in order for a successful environmental management system.

The Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA) cycle is the foundation of all ISO management system standards but especially ISO 14001. The cycle ensures development, continuous improvement and control of the management system. The cycle ensures constant monitoring of the organization’s effectiveness. It consists of the following:


Plan – environmental management system implementation using of ISO 14000 guidelines

Do – conducting life cycle assessment and managing environmental aspects

Check – conducting audits and evaluating environmental performance

Act – using and maintaining the environmental management system through continuous improvement

ISO 14001:2004 provides a framework for a holistic, systematic and strategic approach to the organization’s environmental policy, plans and actions. An organization’s top management can manage environmental issues by prevention and identification of areas for cost savings in energy consumption, raw material usage and waste disposal with an effective environmental management system based on ISO 14001.

Plan – Environmental Policy

The first step in ISO 14001 is to define an environmental policy and to establishing good environmental performance as a strategic objective. It is important that your organization’s managers are driven and focused to achieve the relevant requirements.

The management team should start with identifying operations that interact or could potentially interact with the environment in the future. The interactions can be direct or indirect. Directly such as in the manufacturing industry or indirectly such as in the primary sector like raw materials. The management team’s goals and targets have to be measurable so they can be reviewed and improved by your internal audits in order to be successful in ISO 14001.

Do – Implementation

This step involves implementing the system that has been planned by the management in the previous step. Conducting a life cycle assessment and managing environmental aspects and greenhouse gases is involved in implementing an environmental management system.

The resources and the members of your organization that are responsible for maintaining and control of various processes that are put in place have to be defined. The members responsible for these processes have to be trained and should have documentation for all procedures and processes including operational and documentation control and emergency procedures and responses.

Check – Auditing

This stage involves conducting internal audits and measuring environmental performance periodically which ensures that your organization’s targets and objectives are being met. Greenhouse gas performance also has to be measured. Your management team has to make sure that the employees responsible for various processes are monitoring and maintaining them adequately up to the ISO 14001 standard.

The requirements limited to key process characteristics should be monitored in order to make the whole audit system more effective. If your organization already has a quality system the ISO 14001 can be integrated or make reference to it.

Corrective and preventative action documentation for various setbacks or processes is required to be presented for ISO 14001 as is the case with other management systems. The corrective and preventative action documentation emphasizes the environmental mind set the organization needs on every level and ensures continuous incremental improvement.

Act – Continuous Improvement

A planned management review has to be conducted in order to ensure continuous improvement which involves:

Evaluating audits

  • Ensuring the meeting of your organization’s objectives and targets
  • Ensuring the meeting of ISO 14001 requirements
  • Devising improvements to the processes
  • Evaluating changing circumstances such as legal requirements

In comparison to the quality management systems the continuous improvement process for ISO 14001 is slightly different. It includes the following aspects:

  • Expansion – more and more business areas should get covered by the implemented EMS
  • Enrichment – more and more activities, products, processes should be involved in the EMS
  • Upgrading – improvement in structure and framework of the EMS through know-how gained by the business when dealing with environmental issues

The continuous improvement of your environmental management system should move from operational measures to a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges.

Key steps to getting certified for ISO 14001

In order to get certified for ISO 14001 by NSAI there are a number of steps involved:


The first step involves the application for certification for ISO 14001

Gap Assessment

This is where:

  • An on-site analysis of your current system is conducted
  • This will then be assessed against the standard
  • A report is then prepared to highlight the gaps between your current system and the standard

The gap assessment is optional and is not required for the certification process of ISO 14001.

Preliminary Assessment – Stage 1

Your documentation has to be inspected and various areas have to be reviewed including:

  • The proposed scope of your registration
  • The status of implementation of your management system
  • The appropriate regulatory and legal requirements
  • Your management policies and objectives
  • Whether the system addresses the key areas of your business
  • Your site-specific activities – top level process review
  • Your key management elements, e.g. internal audits, reviews and complaints procedures
  • Your readiness to move onto Stage 2 of the assessment, the Registration Assessment

There should be a period of several weeks between preliminary assessment and registration assessment so that any issues can be sorted in relation to the preliminary assessment for ISO 14001. If there are major non-conformities a second preliminary assessment will have to be carried out.

Registration Assessment – Stage 2

This involves a full review of your management system in order to confirm that your management system is controlled. When the registration assessment is complete a notified body issues a detailed report along with the outcome which recommends registration or not. If any issues arise during the assessment you will be expected to submit an action plan which should describe what changes are to be made to the management system in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of the same issues occurring again.

Surveillance and Re-assessment

A notified body visits each company at least once a year to make sure the management system is being maintained to the ISO 14001 requirements and that it is achieving it’s expected outcomes. A part of the management system is reviewed in depth during each visit.

There is an expiry date on the certificate and the certificate expires every three years. Before the expiry date occurs a detailed assessment of the whole management system is undertaken to ensure every element of the system is performing satisfactorily and the results of the previous visits are taken into account.

During the registration period, changes are inevitable. In order to make sure the management system remains sound the notified body works with each registered organization. Usually, change can be reviewed and assessed during routine surveillance visits. The notified body reserves the right to suspend or revoke certification in cases where change leads to the breakdown of the ISO 14001 system.

Implementing ISO Systems

The steps in the implementation of an ISO system are as follows:

  • Gap Analysis Audit
  • Project Planning
  • Implementation
  • Full Systems Audit
  • Certification

We are also acutely aware that many of its customers are often under tight deadlines for the implementation and certification of management systems, a problem that is often exacerbated by the difficulties in releasing staff members from the day to day needs of the organisation to work on this type of project. Therefore in order to meet the requirements of our clients we provide the following services:

Turn-Key Implementation:

We can provide a complete turn-key system, whereby we will undertake every aspect of the implementation specifically the preparation of the manuals, procedures, work instructions & forms for each process owner.

Dedicated Personnel:

We will provide a dedicated consultant to the project who will remain solely with the project for the duration of the implementation and will provide a contact/reference point for all members of the organisation. Should the project be of such a scale where additional consultation is required, this can be catered for at a moment’s notice. In addition we will also provide further specialist consultation in specific areas such as waste management, energy reduction etc.

Project Management:

At the outset of any project we will provide a complete project plan outlining each deliverable and its respective target date in order to ensure the project is brought in on time and within budget. The project plan will be forwarded on a weekly basis to the organisation for review.

Staff Timeline Plan:

In order to allow for changes in our clients workload, at the outset of each project we will provide a project plan outlining which of the clients staff will be required, when and for how long in order to implement a system. This plan is flexible but it allows the client to plan from the outset the requirements placed on the organisation.

Paperless Systems:

Both the Quality and Environmental systems can be designed and implemented in a completely electronic format this in turn will reduce hard copy paperwork which benefits the environment and increases personal efficiency within the organisation.

Certification Management:

We maintain strong links with largest and most recognised certification bodies presently operating in Ireland. We will arrange and manage all aspects of the certification process including quotation, time tabling & leading the audit with any certification body the organisation sees fit to use. The above are just some of the practical benefits provided by us over the course of each and every implementation of a Management System.

Maintenance of ISO Systems

By using an outside company to maintain your ISO systems, the following benefits can be achieved:

  • The organisation is always in a state of audit readiness and will be in a position to receive customer audits at a moment’s notice.
  • An individual from the organisation does not have to be responsible for the day to day maintenance of the system which thus ensures the organisations staff is free to concentrate on the core aspects of their jobs.
  • In using an outside company to maintain & review systems, the organisation gets the benefit of an independent and unbiased review of its operations.

Each certified Management System contains a number of mandatory elements such as which must be reviewed on an ongoing basis as a requirement of the Management System such as:

  • Internal System Audits
  • Management Reviews
  • Legislation Reviews
  • Improvement Plans
  • System Policies
  • Corrective & Preventive Actions

Each maintenance contract is tailor made through discussion with the client to ensure the organisations requirements and needs are being met whilst also striving to offer constructive opportunities for improvement to the organisation should they arise.

The above elements will all be covered as a minimum of any maintenance contract.

Integrating ISO Systems

By integrating Management Systems the organisation will achieve the following benefits:

  • A reduction in the number of auditing days required per annum by the certification body, as all certified systems will be audited at the same time. This should provide a significant cost saving.
  • A reduction in the number of maintenance days required by the organisation, as both systems will be reviewed at the same time. This again should provide a significant cost saving.
  • As both systems will be integrated, those similar elements of each system will only need to have action taken once which will reduce the number of installation consulting days and again provide a significant cost saving.
  • With the integration of the systems there will be no paperwork repetition which in-turn will ensure the organisations staff are always focused on value added tasks.

The ISO:9001 Quality Management System, ISO:14001 Environmental Management System, ISO:16001 Energy Management System and to a lesser extent the OHSAS:18000 Occupational Health & Safety System have been written as complimentary systems, meaning each system can be easily combined with another to form one simple to manage system.

System integration is simple solution to providing cost savings to the organisation and achieving enhanced benefits from your Management Systems.

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We would be happy to help you with you’re ISO requirements

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