ISO14001/EMS Audit
Pages Appendix1 Appendix2 References


ISO 14001 Environment


A process for improvement

ISO 14000 is a group of standards, all of which relate to dealing effectively with environmental responsibility:

  • Environmental Management Systems (14001, 14002, 14004)
  • Environmental Auditing (14010, 14011, 14012)
  • Evaluation of Environmental Performance (14031)
  • Environmental Labelling (14020, 14021, 14022, 14023, 14024, 14025)
  • Life-Cycle Assessment (14040, 14041,14042, 14043)

Note that ISO 14001, an Environmental Management System, is a management standard, not a performance or product standard. Its underlying purpose is that companies will improve their environmental performance, but the document itself does not set any standards either for performance or the level of improvement. This is because ISO 14001 is actually a process for managing company activities that impact on the environment.

Although aiming at meeting environmental objectives, the process (Figure 1) is also intended to be an eventual source of success for the company.

Figure 1: The ISO 14001 process

The ISO 14001 process


A unique standard

ISO 14001 is at least unusual, and arguably unique, in that it is:

  • Comprehensive:
    • all members of the organization participate in environmental protection
    • the environmental management system (EMS) considers all stakeholders
    • there are processes to identify all environmental impacts
  • Proactive, focusing on forward thinking and action instead of reacting to command and control policies.
  • Based on a systems approach, stressing improving environmental protection by using a single EMS across all functions of the organization.

Figure 2: A systems view of ISO 14001

A systems view of ISO 14001


This systems approach, where the process is observed and assessed against agreed standards, and appropriate corrective action is taken, is a recurring theme in electronics and quality. However, in most cases feedback comes from the output, and is used to correct the process, whereas in environmental management (Figure 2) both feedback and corrective actions affect all three areas, input, process and output.

EMS elements

An ISO 14001 approved company must have:

  • an environmental policy supported by top management
  • environmental goals, objectives, and targets that support the policy
  • defined roles, responsibilities, and authorities
  • an environmental management programme
  • a process for communicating their EMS to all interested parties
  • a program for auditing and corrective action

In order to exercise control, the company needs documented control of operations in accordance with the standard. As with ISO 9000, this has a multi-section structure (Figure 3):

Figure 3: The structure of the ISO 14001 specification

The structure of the ISO 14001 specification


The company must also have reviewed all the environmental aspects, and identified both any significant impacts and the relevant legal and other requirements. Typically the audits follow the same broad outline as the topics covered by the EMS procedures.

Other significant activities in implementing ISO 14001 relate to:

  • training and awareness
  • monitoring and measuring operations that can have a significant impact on the environment
  • preparing a response for possible environmental emergencies
  • correcting non-conformance
  • audit and management review

The sequence of EMS implementation

Figure 4 shows the importance of:

  • a lead from the top
  • continuing review and audit

Figure 4: The sequence of EMS implementation

The sequence of EMS implementation


In fact, as is emphasized in the alternative diagram in Figure 5, implementing an EMS is very much an iterative process.

Figure 5: The phases of EMS implementation

The phases of EMS implementation



ISO 14001 is an internationally accepted standard that sets out how you can go about putting in place an effective Environmental Management System (EMS). The standard is designed to address the delicate balance between maintaining profitability and reducing environmental impact; with the commitment of your entire organization, it can enable you to achieve both objectives.

What’s in ISO 14001:

  • General requirements
  • Environmental policy
  • Planning implementation and operation
  • Checking and corrective action
  • Management review

This means you can identify aspects of your business that impact on the environment and understand those environmental laws that are relevant to your situation. The next step is to produce objectives for improvement and a management programme to achieve them, with regular reviews for continual improvement.  We can then periodically assess the system and, if compliant, register your company or site to ISO 14001.

Who is it relevant to?

Environmental impact is becoming an increasingly important issue across the globe, with pressure to minimize that impact coming from a number of sources: local and national governments, regulators, trade associations, customers, employees and shareholders. Social pressures are also building up from the growing array of interested parties, such as consumer, environmental and minority non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia and neighbours.

So ISO 14001 is relevant to every organization, including:

  • Single site to large multi-national companies
  • High risk companies to low risk service organizations
  • Manufacturing, process and the service industries; including local governments
  • All industry sectors including public and private sectors
  • Original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers


Certifying your company's environmental management system to ISO 14001 means that a third party, such as BSI, has assessed that it meets the requirements set out in the standard.

Certification to ISO 14001 allows you to:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to achieving legal and regulatory compliance to regulators and government
  • Demonstrate your environmental commitment to stakeholders
  • Demonstrate an innovative and forward thinking approach to customers and prospective employees
  • Increase your access to new customers and business partners
  • Better manage your environmental risks, now and in the future
  • Potentially reduce public liability insurance costs
  • Enhance your reputation

For particular industries, pressure is now being exerted by many large organizations, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who expect their suppliers to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and may mandate ISO 14001 certification as a licence to operate.

If you want to take the implementation and certification of an EMS slowly, the BS 8555 STEMS scheme allows you to phase the management system in and assess how you’re performing at each step on the path. Once completed, it still results in achieving ISO 14001 certification.


We are experts in training as well as assessment and have a network of public and in-house courses dedicated to teaching you the skills you need before, during and after registration to the standard.


Steps to certification

Implementing a management system of any kind is a significant undertaking for any organization. However, there are some common tools you can use and a common process to follow during implementation and the route towards certification.

We offer a comprehensive range of services to help businesses understand and implement the internationally recognized environmental standard ISO 14001. These build on the requirements of ISO 14001 by breaking down the requirements into manageable steps:

1. Choose the standard

Initially you should read ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems - Specification with guidance for use.

Talk to us - we can provide you with information and support in finding the right solution for your company.

2. Develop your environmental policy

Your environmental policy will state your commitment to compliance with legal and regulatory demands, continual improvement and the prevention of pollution. You should make this policy available to your customers and the public.

3. Review and produce objectives

At this stage you should identify the elements of your business that impact on the environment, establish access to relevant environmental legislation and regulations and produce objectives and targets for environmental improvement and a management programme to achieve them.

4. Training

Once you have assembled a team and agreed your strategy it’s crucial to get understanding and involvement from the top down. Our training offers a comprehensive programme of training courses for each key step, which can be tailored to a company’s size and needs. 

5. Implementation and assessment

As an accredited certification body our Client Managers can check in with you at key stages to ensure your implementation is running smoothly and to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. The initial registration to ISO 14001 involves a two-stage assessment process, including a document review and a site visit.
You should arrange the initial assessment with your registrar.  It's often a good idea to include a pre-assessment, designed to act as a practice assessment. Following the two-stage initial assessment, the assessor will determine whether you should be recommended for registration.

6. Certification and beyond

Once the assessment has been successfully completed, we’ll issue a certificate of registration, clearly explaining the scope of your management system. The certificate is valid for three years, and your assessor will visit you regularly to help you make sure you remain compliant, and support you in the continual improvement of your systems. 

Other related services

Integrated management systems
ISO 14001 is designed to be compatible with other management systems standards and specifications which you might already have or plan to implement, such as:

  • ISO 9001 Quality
  • OHSAS 1800 Occupational Health and Safety
  • ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security

EMS Implementation Checklist

4.2  Environmental policy






1.     Has the organization defined and documented its environmental policy?




2.     Is the environmental policy based on:

Significant environmental aspects?

Corporate policy?




3.     Is the policy appropriate to the organization's activities and their potential environmental impacts?




4.     Does the policy include commitments to:

Continual improvement

Prevention of pollution

Comply with environmental legislation and other requirements to which the company subscribes




5.     Does the policy provide a framework for setting environmental objectives and targets?




6.     Is the policy documented, implemented, maintained and communicated to all persons working for or on behalf of the organisation?




7.     Is the policy available to the public?





4.3.1  Environmental aspects






1.     Has a procedure been established, implemented and maintained to identify the environmental aspects of its current and relevant past activities?




2.     Have aspects related to potential significant environmental aspects been considered in establishing and implementing the EMS?




3.     Have aspects having legal and/or regulatory reporting, monitoring or operational requirements been identified as “significant” aspects?




4.     Are the following environmental aspects considered in sufficient detail?

Air emission

Wastewater effluent

Waste management

Soil pollution

Raw material and natural resource usage

Hazardous and toxic material

Impact on well being (e.g. noise, smell, heat, landscape, protection)

Utility, energy and resource

Other environmental specific issues on site such as housekeeping, storage, areas, piping




5.     Are the following operational aspects considered?

Normal operating conditions

Abnormal operating conditions (e.g. start up and shut down conditions, maintenance, incidents)

Development of new or modified processes, products or services

Actual and potential emergency conditions and accidents




6.     Have significant aspects been identified?




7.     Are the significance evaluation criteria reasonable and adequate?




8.     Are all significant environmental aspects controlled by objectives, targets, and programmes, procedures or monitoring?




9.     Have indirect aspects such as the following considered?

Supplier evaluation

Subcontractors on site


Products and service related impacts




10.  Have environmental aspects identified and evaluated for planned or new developments, or new or modified activities, products and services ?





4.3.2  Legal and other requirements






1.     Has a procedure been developed and implemented to identify applicable regulatory, legal and other requirements?




2.     Are current copies of all applicable regulatory and other requirements accessible to personnel as necessary?




3.     Have all further agreements the organization needs to fulfill been integrated in the procedure?

Business related agreements

Agreements with public authorities

Guideline other than legal requirements (e.g. company policy, industry codes and practices, etc.)




4.     Are the following licenses, permits and approvals available to demonstrate full legal compliance?

Licenses of waste collectors

Air emission permits

Wastewater discharge permits

Permits and licenses related to dangerous goods

Environmental fees, e.g. wastewater discharge fee

Registration at authorities (e.g. wastewater discharge, air emission inspection)







4.3.3  Objectives, targets and programmes






1.     Have environmental objectives and targets been established at each relevant function and level in the organization?




2.     Are objectives and targets documented?




3.     Are objectives and targets specific, measurable, concrete and understandable?




4.     Do the objectives and targets take into consideration of the followings?

The compliance with the relevant legislation and other requirements

The significant environmental aspects

The criteria for selection of adequate technology, financial operation and business requirements

The views of interested parties




5.     Are the objectives and targets consistent with the following?

Environmental policy

The commitment for prevention of pollution

The commitment for continual improvement of the environmental performance (where applicable)




6.     Has an environmental performance evaluation system been established to periodically review the achievement of the objectives and targets?




7.     Are evaluation criteria or meeting records available to determine what significant environmental aspects become objectives and targets?




8.     Have programmes for the achievement of environmental objectives and targets been established and implemented?




9.     Have responsibilities been assigned for  programmes at each appropriate function and level?








11.  Do the programmes include the following elements?

Designation of responsibility for achieving objectives and targets at each relevant function and level of the organization

The means and time-frame by which the programmes are to be achieved

Are the programmes, where appropriate, revised and amended to apply to new development, new or modified activities, products or services





4.4.1 Resources, roles, responsibility and authority






1.     Is an organization chart available?




2.     Have responsibilities and authorities for environmental management been defined and documented?




3.     Has a Management Representative been assigned?




4.     Have the roles, responsibilities, and authorities for the Management Representative been defined?




5.     Are the required resources (e.g. personnel, technology, finance) for implementation and control of the environmental management system provided by management?




6.     Does the personnel appointed in environmental management have the required competence?





4.4.2  Competence, training, and awareness






1.     Have training needs been identified?




2.     Are all personnel, whose work can cause significant environmental impacts, competent on the basis of education, training and or experience?




3.     Have procedures been established to assure all persons working for or on behalf of the company  are aware of the Environmental Policy, actual and potential impacts and their responsibilities?




4.     Has the organization ensured that personnel performing environmental specific tasks have the required knowledge (e.g. education, training experience)?




5.     Does the communication process ensure that business partners, suppliers and contractors are aware of the relevant requirements of the organization‘s EMS?




6.     Do the contractors working on site have the requisite knowledge and skills or have been trained to perform the work in an environmental responsible manner?




7.     Are training records, certificates and licenses available to demonstrate the competence?





4.4.3  Communication






1.     Are procedures maintained for communication of environmental issues between various levels of the organization?




2.     Are procedures maintained for receiving, documenting and responding to communications from external interested parties?




3.     Has the organization recorded its policy and/or processes for external communications on its significant environmental aspects?





4.4.4  Documentation






1.     Have the core elements of the EMS and their interaction been described in paper or electronic form?




2.     Does documentation of core EMS elements provide direction to related documentation?




3.     Are the following EMS documents documented :

- policy, objectives & targets, scope of the EMS





4.4.5  Control of documents






1.     Are procedures maintained to ensure periodic review and appropriate revision of all required documents?




2.     Are current versions of all required documents available at all essential locations?




3.     Are obsolete documents promptly removed or otherwise assured against unintended use?




4.     Is all documentation legible, readily retrievable and identifiable, and revision level or date identified?




5.     Have procedures been established for the creation modification and appropriate approval of the various types of documents?





4.4.6  Operational control






1.     Are activities associated with significant environmental aspects planned and carried out under specified conditions?




2.     Have documented procedures been established, implemented and maintained for operations associated with significant environmental aspects, policy, objectives and targets?




3.     Have, during development of the documented procedure, the following elements considered?

Activities where their absence could cause deviation from environmental policy, objectives and targets

Stipulating operating criteria and limits for control of the important activity characteristics

Control processes of significant environmental aspects of products and services

Release of new or modified processes and products




4.     Are, during the development of the documented procedures, other indirect impacts considered?




5.     Have procedures been established relating to the significant environmental aspects of materials and services purchased and used by the organization?




6.     Have procedures been established to communicate relevant procedures and/or requirements, regarding environmental aspects of purchased products or services, to suppliers and subcontractors?





4.4.7  Emergency preparedness and response






1.     Have procedures been implemented to identify the potential for and respond to accidents and emergencies?




2.     Have procedures been established to prevent and mitigate impacts of accidents and emergencies?




3.     Are emergency procedures tested where practicable?




4.     Are emergency plans available? Are procedures defined to ensure that environmental impacts of accidents and emergency situations are mitigated?




5.     Are the responsibility defined to review and revise, where necessary, the emergency preparedness and response procedures?





4.5.1  Monitoring and measurement






1.     Have procedures been documented and implemented to monitor key characteristics of operations that can have significant impacts?




2.     Has any environmental performance indicator that relates to objectives and targets been established?




3.     Are records available to track performance and conformity with objectives and targets?




4.     Are all monitoring equipment appropriately maintained and calibrated?





4.5.2  Evaluation of compliance






1.     Are documented procedures established, implemented and maintained to periodically evaluate compliance with relevant environmental legislation and other requirements?




2.     Has monitoring and measuring data been recorded to evaluate the compliance with relevant environmental legislation and other requirements?





4.5.3  Nonconformity, corrective action and preventive action






1.       Have procedures been established to define the responsibility for handling, investigating and controlling, and mitigating nonconformity?




2.       Are corrective and preventive actions timely, appropriate and effective?




3.       Are procedures changed and/or updated as a result of corrective action and preventive action?




4.       Does the procedure include the fact that complaints from interested parties are to be integrated in the process?





4.5.4  Control of Records






1.     Have procedures been implemented to identify maintenance and disposal of environmental records?




2.     Are environmental records legible, readily retrievable, protected against damage?




3.     Have retention times been specified?




4.     Do the records include the followings:

Training records

Audit results

Management review records

Information on applicable environmental laws and other requirements

Inspection, maintenance and calibration records

Information on emergency preparedness and response

Information on significant environmental aspects and associated impacts


Monitoring data

Details of nonconformity, incidents, complaints and follow-up actions

Contractors and suppliers records

Process and product information





4.5.5  Internal audit






1.     Have internal audit procedures been developed and implemented?




2.     Are audit frequencies and topics based on the environmental importance of the activity concerned and the results of prior audits?




3.     Do audit procedures cover how results are reported and how results are provided to management?




4.     Do audit procedures adequately define scope, frequency, methods and responsibilities?




5.     Has the audit system been fully and effectively implemented?




6.     Do audit reports and records indicate a reliable system which can be used as a tool in the third party audit process?




7.     Are the auditors conducting the audits competent and in a position to conduct the audits objectively and impartially?





4.6  Management review






1.     Do periodic management reviews take place to ensure the continuing suitability and effectiveness of the EMS?




2.     Does management review result in changes as appropriate to the policy, objectives, targets etc.?




3.     Are management reviews records retained ?




4.     Are the reviews carried based on the following documents or information?

Audit results reports

Evaluations of compliance with legal requirements and other requirements to which the company subscribes

Achievement of environmental management system objectives and targets

Communications and complaints from relevant interested parties

The environmental performance of the organization

Status of corrective and preventive actions

Follow-up actions from previous management reviews

Changing circumstances, including developments in legal and other requirements related to its environmental aspects, and

Recommendations for improvement





Top of page
Site Policy Contact Us Disclosure Policy Suggested Operating Environment