What are the steps to achieving ISO 14001 certification?

If your organisation wants to gain ISO 14001 environmental management systems (EMS) certification, these are the steps you’ll need to take.

  • Management support

Ensuring management support is critical otherwise, implementing ISO will certainly fail.

  • Identify legal requirements

With management thoroughly convinced of its merits, moving to the second step means making sure you have a firm grasp of the legal implications of this standard.

Defining the scope of your ISO 14001 means you define its limits. This helps prevent including areas of your business that may not be affected by environmental issues. Part of this process if writing both an environmental policy and environmental aspects paper – a round-up of the interaction you have with the environment.

  • Define EMS procedures

Policies, processes and procedures are those factors that your business will engage and invest in to prevent a negative impact on the environment. Part of this step is to identify what these areas are, and the impacts they currently have.

  • Implement EMS procedures

ISO 14001 is about ‘doing’ rather than just collecting a set of policies on a shelf. With your procedures in place, you will need to show how these are implemented.

  • Training and awareness

No form of accreditation can be implemented correctly if everyone who is part of an organisation is not on board. This means ensuring a heightened sense of awareness, as well as ensuring everyone has adequate training on environmental issues and processes that directly affect the company.

  • Choose a certification body

This is the company that will audit your EMS processes in line with ISO 14001 requirements. They may also give areas for improvement. With such an important role, it pays to get the right people.

  • Operate EMS

Measuring and keeping accurate records show that environmental processes are effective, and that when and where needed, improvements are being made.

  • Internal audits

An internal audit ensures that you are confident processes are doing what they should be doing – minimising your impact on the environment.

  • Management review

Involving management is a key feature running through ISO 14001, and so the next step after performing an internal audit is to review the entire process with management.

  • Implement corrections

ISO 14001 is a driver for improving and lessening the impact an organisation has on the environment. No company gets it right first time and so where there are corrections to be made, implement them, recording changes to processes as you go.

  • Stage 1 certification audit

At this stage, documentation is reviewed and verified. You will receive a report outlining where you comply and where changes need to be made.

  • Stage 2 certification audit

This is the on-site inspection (the previous step was a paper exercise), an in-depth process that will witness everything you say you do to minimise your impact on the environment.

Taking time to plan ISO 14001 is key to success, along with a strong procedural background and practice.

How can we help you?

If you’re in need of assistance with ISO 14001 or any other aspect of ISO certification, here at Synergos we’d be delighted to help. Whether you have questions about the path to certification or are looking for advice and support to maintain an existing standard call 01484 666160 or Email info@synergosconsultancy.co.uk and we’ll be happy to talk it over with you.


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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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