A Step towards 2015 - Update on the ISO 14001 Revisions

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, IEMA, have concluded their initial consultation process for revisions to ISO14001, resulting in a range of key inputs to the development process. A Committee Draft (CD) now exists which reflects ISO’s new High Level Structure (HLS) for ‘Type A’ management system standards, a structure mandated for use by those developing new or revising existing standards.

A further series of consultation workshops on the CD with IEMA members across the UK will conclude next month, the outcome from which will be collated and fed into the national feedback to BSI. It is still envisaged that the revised version of ISO14001, together with the revised version of ISO14004, will be published in early 2015

The CD currently consists of the existing environmental management system text, typically more expansive, integrated within the HLS. New text has been drafted for the relevant HLS requirements and the current annex has been almost entirely replaced with interpretative text for the standard’s requirements.

With the caveat that the current CD will almost certainly be subject to further changes in content and interpretative text over and above the mandatory HLS structural text, the following are some of the key issues for current management systems within organisations.

  • The HLS structure and its associated text cannot be changed so the contents of the CD standard are now numbered 1 to 10. With the requirements commencing at 4, as previously, systems that are currently documented in line with the existing ISO 14001 clause numbers will have to be re-numbered. The key benefit to multiple standards users is that once reformatting/renumbering has been undertaken then the common system elements will facilitate their integration
  • As indicated in our previous news item (March 2012), the HLS requires an organisation to understand its environmental context, i.e. what effects can the environment in its broadest terms have upon the organisation? It also requires that the needs and expectations of its interested parties are understood.
  • The CD requires leadership and commitment by top management, the definition for which has been tightened through a range of requirements, putting top management at the centre of directing the Environmental Management System (EMS).
  • The concept of ‘value chain planning’, taking a life cycle perspective, is required within the operational requirements. This has engendered much debate to date as to what it means and the implications of resourcing the identification of environmental aspects and impacts upstream and downstream

From Excel’s viewpoint most of the changes are only what we would look for in a robust and comprehensive EMS meeting the current standard’s requirements. Excel will provide further updates on the standard, within news bulletins and within our auditing training courses, as the requirements and interpretations of the new version become clearer.

All Excel’s training courses reflect current Management System Standard’s and are revised accordingly as new revisions are released. We endeavour to facilitate our customer’s transitions to new versions by publishing Comparison Documents. These can be found on our Technical Information page.