ISO 14001:2015 revision – What do I need to know?

Since its publication in 1996, which was originally modelled on BS7750, ISO 14001 has evolved somewhat, and this latest revision – the largest one since 2004 – may be confusing to those who’ve already gained ISO 14001 accreditation, and who want to keep their environmental management system current. Here, we explain the major changes to ISO 14001 in brief so that you can see if your systems and processes may need to change.

What’s changed?

Fundamentally, this brings ISO 14001 into alignment with Annex SL, making it more compatible with other management systems, which should make integration into companies much easier. Structurally, ISO 14001:2015 has ten clauses, whilst the older version had only four, and there are 16 mandatory documents instead of the 12 that came with 2004’s version.

Whilst there are some completely new requirements, those worried about the change can take some comfort in knowing that there are only slight changes made to the following aspects of ISO 14001:

  • Management Review
  • Environmental Policy
  • Competence
  • Leadership
  • Internal Audit
  • Corrective Action
  • Training and Awareness

However, moderate changes have been made to performance evaluation, document management, identification and evaluation of environmental aspects, emergency preparedness and response, document management, communication and the EMS, and environmental objectives and plans to achieve them.

What’s new?

The new requirements cover Risks and Opportunities, Interested Parties and Context of the Organisation – explained below are the general descriptions of all three of these new requirements.

Risks and Opportunities

Those that know the standard well, will know that ISO 14001 has always had risk as a feature, but this has now been extended to cover the whole EMS. Since risk identifies opportunities for more efficient systems and processes, this change seeks to improve the environmental impact through the minimization of risks, such as having an inefficient machine replaced with a more efficient and environmentally friendly one.


Interested Parties

Interested parties have been included as part of the standard to ensure that compliance is holistic. In ISO14001: 2015, interested parties are groups, persons or organisations that believe or can be affected by an activity or decision pertaining to environmental performance. Identifying the needs and expectations within the framework of ISO 14001:2015 will certainly serve businesses well when it comes to gaining customers that are as environmentally focused as they are.


Context of the Organisation

No two businesses are the same, and taking into account the context of the organisation when implementing an EMS is vital, as this ensures that external and internal structures are focused and all influences and outcomes considered. This tailors the EMS to the specific needs of the organisation and its impact on the environment. Again, this new addition ensures that the benefits of ISO 14001:2015 are maximised.

Businesses that are ISO 14001 accredited will have work to do, but the transition period allows until September 2018 for implementation of the new standard. However, businesses would be wise to start working towards the new standards as soon as possible to gain the benefits that ISO 14001:2015 brings to their organisation.

If you’re struggling to understand what has changed with ISO 14001:2015, or want to reap the benefits of accreditation, then why not give Synergos Consultancy a call on 01484 817 444 or email for assistance. It could be the best decision you make for your business, and for the environment.

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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