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ISO14001:2015 Environmental Management System Certification


About ISO

ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardisation.

It is an international body based in Geneva, Switzerland and was formed in the year 1947. The organisation consists of representatives from over 160 countries. Each country is represented by its national standards body. For example, India is represented by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

ISO comprises more than 180 technical committees, covering many industrial sectors and products. These technical committees, as far as possible, try to address the requirements of the member countries while formulating their standards. It aims at harmonization of standards at the international level with a view to minimise trade and technical barriers. ISO publishes both product and system standards.

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ISO14001 standard

With global warming and adverse climate change becoming harsh realities today, world leaders are seeking ways and means to protect our planet from these ill effects of environmental pollution.

Alongwith the society, business organisations are also realising the need to do their bit in this endeavor. Out of choice or compulsion, many organisations are implementing Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as per ISO14001:2015 standard, and subsequently seeking ISO14001:2015 certification.

The ISO14001:2015 is an international standard on Environmental Management Systems, published by the ISO.

It spells out the requirements of Environmental Management Systems that need to be complied with.

The other standards in the series such as ISO14004:2016 provide guidelines for implementing ISO14001:2015.

The ISO14001:2015 standard replaces its older version, namely, ISO14001:2004.

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Who can apply ?

Any legal entity having manufacturing / service operations can apply for ISO14001 certification. Manufacturers, Service Organizations, Trading Houses, Banks, Hospitals, Educational Institutions, Government Agencies, etc. are eligible.

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Benefits of ISO14001 certification

Some of the benefits of ISO14001 certification are:

  • Systems approach to environmental management and company-wide awareness about the need for environmental protection
  • Clarity in definition of EMS related authorities and responsibilities
  • Reduction in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, more responsible ways of waste disposal, and, better emergency preparedness
  • Better documentation and traceability to root causes of EMS problems
  • Reduction in the need for multiple assessments (by customers)
  • Use of recognized mark (of certifying agency) on letterheads etc., and
  • Enhanced corporate image and market positioning.

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Steps involved in ISO14001 certification

The steps involved in any ISO14001 certification project are the following:

  • Gap Analysis: Detailed assessment of environmental aspects and associated significant environmental impacts and the prevailing pollution control system vis-a-vis ISO14001 requirements.
  • Initial Review and Planning: Review of findings of gap analysis by Senior Management, and planning for ISO14001:2015 implementation.
  • System Documentation: Preparation of manuals, forms, campaign posters etc.
  • System Implementation: Implementation of the system as per manuals.
  • Company-wide Training: Training on ISO14001:2015 requirements & procedures, Emergency Evacuation and Fire Fighting, First Aid, and EMS Internal Audit.
  • EMS Internal Audits: Periodic audit of the Environmental Management System and corrective / preventive actions on audit findings.
  • Pre-assessment: Initial audit by Certifying agency, and, implementation of corrective actions on audit findings.
  • Final Assessment: Detailed assessment by the Certifying agency and recommendation for certification.

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Major cost elements

There are three major cost elements in any ISO14001 project:

  1. Cost of procurement of measuring instruments for pollution monitoring, pollution control equipment, safety devices, and modifications to factory / office / premises / vehicles / plant machinery with high risk of environmental emergencies.
  2. Cost of training resources / fee to be paid to external consultants.
  3. Fee to be paid to the certifying agency.

The above costs depend on the size and complexity of operations of the applicant organisation.

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Choosing a consultant

Before deciding on your ISO14001 consultant, consider the following:

Formal Qualifications: 

As in the case of medical / financial services, look for formal qualifications. At its minimum level, a graduate degree in Engineering (Civil / Industrial / Production / Plant / Mechanical / Metallurgical / Chemical / Electrical) with additional degree/diploma in environmental engineering could be acceptable. Apart from ISO14001 requirements, your consultant must also be aware of the local statutory and regulatory requirements (such as the Factories Act and Rules, Pollution Control Act, Boilers Act, Fire Safety Rules, etc.). Consultants with engineering / science background are far more suitable than those with some other educational background.

Relevant Experience:

Your ISO14001 consultant should have the experience of handling atleast one or two ISO14001 projects independently or as the principal consultant. Avoid those with long experience in other fields and little exposure to ISO14001.

Professional Ethics:

Do not sign-up those ISO14001 consultants who claim to represent a particular certifying agency and/or offer package deals. Also, do not go with those document forgery experts who assure you the ISO14001 certification within ridiculously short time span (say, fifteen days). When you expose your personnel to such unethical people during project implementation, it would cause irrepairable damage to your organizational culture.

Please keep in mind that ISO14001 is no complex technology, and, any organisation (big or small) with genuine commitment to prevention of pollution and environmental protection can achieve it.

Willingness to help in documentation:

Your ISO14001 consultant should prepare first draft of at least the EMS Policy Manual, EMS Procedures, and Standard Forms for EMS record keeping. This would help in quick implementation of the system.

Support till certification:

Get firm commitment from your consultant that he shall provide support till your company gets certified.

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Choosing a certifying agency

This job is also very important. Usually, your ISO14001 consultant suggests some reputed names. But, do not forget to ask your friends in the industry and verify the credibility of the certifying agency. As ISO14001 is more relevant in contractual situations, your customer can be well aware of the standard of certifying agencies. Although there are hundreds of ISO14001 certifying agencies worldwide, only a few have good reputation !

Also, you must insist on signing the service agreement between the Certifying Agency and the Organization applying for certification and pay the audit fees directly to the Certifying Agency. Reputed certifying agencies do not sign-up or bill via a third party like a consulting / accounting / manpower placement agency.

Another point is regarding recognition of certification. In case your buyers are from a different country, it is better to select an auditing agency well recognized in the buyers' country.

Cost is yet another factor. Due to stiff competition, certification fee has come down a lot. However, there can be hidden costs like cost of flying down an auditor from a remote location. In that case, hidden cost can be more than certification fees. So, always go for a credible agency with sufficient number of auditors stationed locally.

BV, DNV, SGS, TUV, and UL are some of the reputed ISO14001 certifying bodies operating globally.

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Useful ISO14001 resources

The following products and services could be helpful in understanding the requirements, developing the system documents, implementing the system, and getting the coveted ISO14001:2015 certification:

  1. ISO14001:2015 Awareness Training Kit (Product Codes: M0014A / M0014B)
  2. ISO14001:2015 Implementation Kit (Product Codes: M0055A / M0055B)
  3. Management System Audit Training Kit (Product Codes: M0005A / M0005B)
  4. Project eConsulting Service for ISO14001:2015 Certification (Service Codes: C0023 / C0024)

Please visit our eShop to know more about these resources and to purchase them right away.

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