How new is the new-look ISO14001?

In an informative seminar ISO 14000 Series - Standards Update at ET2005 in Birmingham Martin Baxter, technical director at IEMA, this morning outlined the recent re-write will have on environmental monitoring systems.

Focusing on the all-important ISO 14001 certification, Mr Baxter explained that while many of the changes introduced to the scheme in November last year were simply a matter of tidying up documents to clarifying the wording there were nevertheless some real differences that needed to be taken into account.

One of the changes likely to have the most impact is a company’s responsibility to make sure everyone who carries out work for them is up to speed on the EMS, including contractors and temporary staff.

Another seemingly minor change set to have a potentially major effect is that companies must also now meet the requirements of all legislation with an environmental aspect, rather than just that outlined in specifically environmental laws.

There is also a greater onus on upper management to take on greater responsibility and have a detailed knowledge of their firm’s EMS targets and performance.

“That didn’t go down well with the Americans and Canadians,” said Mr Baxter.

“They didn’t like the fact management now have documentation of compliance, or perhaps more importantly non-compliance, and therefore a greater degree of accountability.”

Since May 16th auditors have been using the new version when assessing company’s compliance, but currently will not ‘fail’ an EMS so long as it still meets all the requirements of the previous standard.

From next May, however, all those wishing to hold the standard will need to comply with the latest changes to the ISO 14001 and could be stripped of their accreditation if they do not update their EMS to ensure this.

By Sam Bond

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