ISO 14001 Certification: 6 Steps for Successful Implementation

  1. Top Management Commitment & project plan

The commitment of the top management establishes a clear expectation of the organization. The top management ensures the integrated environmental requirements and policies are compatible with the organization’s context and strategy to produce the intended outcome. Implementing ISO 14001 certification expects an organization to incorporate conservation and prohibit pollution of the environment. Therefore, top management needs to understand mitigation of climate change, sustainability, and ecosystem and biodiversity protection through learning. A project plan ensures the organization complies with the EMS policy; therefore, various steps are developed by the organization’s top management. The project plan complies with purchasing necessary control tools for the system, defining EMS roles and competency requirements, implementing preventive programs for maintenance, and budget preparation by evaluating the economy’s feasibility and identifying opportunities to prevent pollution by supporting training. Also, the top management should provide necessary resources and track the EMS performance. Generally, the top management is accountable for the effectiveness of the EMS.

  1. Build competence and awareness

Developing awareness of the EMS program helps individuals understand the importance of the strategy, increasing their willingness to participate and act responsibly. Supporting workers with the required training self-motivates them, reducing top management’s reinforcement. Awareness emphasizes environmental protection as responsibility for every individual, thus generating the commitment of employees. Appropriate training develops the competency of employees where they get to understand the aim of environmental management from the knowledge they have acquired. Therefore, the personnel will make a quality judgment and use the acquired skills to effectively solve any environmental issue that may affect the organization’s consistent progression.

  1. Develop process documentation

Before developing a documentation process, the organization should understand the purpose and application of every document required by the EMS. Therefore, the organization should create documents applicable to their strategies and goals and be quite efficient. Structuring the documentation process should appear as follows:

  1. The top management developed an EMS policy representing an organization’s declarative statement to define the goal and direction of the EMS by providing strategies to establish EMS purpose.
  2. EMS manual, which documents the EMS scope, their interactions, and main elements.
  3. EMS procedures have different structures and formats composed of the organization’s title, scope, purpose, responsibilities, task description, and authorities.
  4. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), guidelines, and work instructions are similar to procedures that prevent non-conformities by vividly describing exact procedures of how various tasks should be completed. The guidelines are mainly developed for occurrences prone to non-conformities.
  5. Forms and records ensure processes conducted are in line with the procedure terms and task instructions.

4. Implementation of the system to address gaps

If the organization needs to distinguish which zones of its EMS should be reinforced accurately, gap analysis is the starting point. It also prevents unnecessary work when working on an already established process or initiative. The main advantages of gap analysis are:

  • Define the procedures and supporting documents in the organization.
  • Recognize the standard’s requirements so the gap between what the organization has and what is considered necessary can be accurately regarded.
  1. Internal audit

An efficient EMS audit establishes a solid foundation for addressing customer challenges and obtaining advantages like resource conservation, environmental protection, and efficient energy use. Improves the organizations’ auditing skills according to the internationally recognized ISO 14001:2015 standard and grows their internal audit capabilities. The process involved with the organization’s internal audit involves audit schedule, planning process, audit execution, reporting, and finally, follow-up on audit improvements and issues.

  1. Third-party certification audit

Firms depending on the internal aspirations, like improving environmental performance, demand audits that promote continuous growth and generate higher benefits and fulfillment with third-party certification than those influenced by external motivating factors, like matching competitors’ actions. Generally, the process is carried out to determine the degree of conformity.