How to Create an ISO 14001 Internal Audit Checklist?

If you are planning your ISO 14001 internal audit for your Environment Management System, you may be looking for some kind of an ISO 14001 audit checklist. Every company is different. However, you can create your own basic ISO 14001 internal audit checklist, customised to your organisation, without too much trouble.

ISO 14001 Audit ChecklistWhile the ISO 14001:2015 standard does not include requirements that indicate that you need to use an ISO 14001 audit checklist, it is a useful and effective way to document the questions you need to ask to ensure that your process outputs meet the planned arrangements for your process.

First of all, it is impossible to have an effective checklist without aligning it to the requirements of the standard; therefore, you will need to consider the requirements of the standard, including the following:

Document review: Read your Environment Management System. You will need to understand processes in the EMS, and find out if there is non-conformity in the documentation with regard to ISO 14001.

Creating the checklist: Make a checklist based on the document review, i.e., read about the specific requirements of the policies, procedures and plans written in the documentation and write them down so that you can check them during the main audit.

Planning the main audit: It is wise to plan your internal audit, as you will need to visit many people and departments – your checklist will give you an idea on the main focus required.

Performing the main audit: This is the physical act of performing the audit, where the auditor moves amongst the employees and processes and checks the critical elements of the standards to determine whether your defined processes are being correctly adhered to. A previously-prepared ISO 14001 audit checklist now proves it’s worth – if this is vague, shallow, and incomplete, it is probable that you will forget to check many key things. And you will need to take detailed notes.

Reporting: Summarize all the non-conformities and write the internal audit report. With the checklist and the detailed notes, a precise report should not be too difficult to write. From this, corrective actions should be easy to record according to the documented corrective action procedure.

Follow-up: It’s the internal auditor’s job to check whether all the corrective actions identified during the internal audit are addressed. The checklist and notes are once again crucial as to the reasons why nonconformity was raised. The internal auditor’s job is only finished when these are rectified and closed, and the ISO 14001 audit checklist is simply a tool to serve this end, not an end in itself.

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ISO 14001 Procedure Document for Quick ISO 14001 Certification

It is easy to assume that every single process that is in place to support your Environmental Management System needs to be documented. ISO 14001 procedures documents are written particularization every method that your company must follow to satisfy the necessities of the ISO 14001 standard. These are clearly written, simple to follow directions for your management, everyone, who works to follow within the day to day operation of your Environment Management System.

The ISO 14001:2015 Procedure should define how the organization’s bloodstream (the flow of documents) will function. The procedure for internal audits must define responsibilities for planning and conducting audits, how audit results are reported, and how records are maintained. This means that the main rules of conduct of the audit must be addressed.

The ISO 14001 procedures documents designed and developed as per Environment Management System standard and requirements of ISO 14001 Certification. The ISO 14001:2015 documents set covers various type of ISO 14001 procedures like communication, documents control, internal audit, training and more, it very useful of implements and upgraded environment management system and guide of process ISO 14001 certification, implementation and requirements.

List of Required ISO 14001 Procedures

The ISO 14001 mandatory procedures documents have 7 various procedures help the organization to make the best environment management system and quick process improvements. All the ISO 14001 procedures required for quick ISO 14001 Certification are listed below:

  • Procedures for identification of environmental aspects and its environmental impacts
  • Procedures for identification of legal requirements
  • Procedures for communication
  • Procedures for operational control
  • Procedures for emergency preparedness response
  • Procedures for monitoring and measurement
  • Procedures for training.

How to Structure ISO 14001:2015 Documentation

The development of the ISO 14001:2015 documentation and record control system for Environmental Management System (EMS) is a very important part of the implementation, as it will define the method of creation, publishing, withdrawal, and using documents and recording. It is up to the organization to create the most appropriate documentation, as it will affect the way you maintain and improve your EMS.

Which document is more important?

Before starting to develop ISO 14001:2015 documentation, it is important to get a clear picture of the purpose of each type of document and its position in the documentation hierarchy. There are several types of documents used to establish an EMS: manual, procedures, policy, objectives, work instructions or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and records and forms. Each type of document and record has its place and role in the EMS. The documentation for an Environmental Management System should be structured as follows:

Structure of ISO 14001 Documentation

1) EMS Manual: It is usually the first document that the certification body wants to see to get familiar with the system. In cases where it is a small company or a company with simple risks, all procedures can be included in an EMS Manual.

2) EMS Policy: A policy represents a declarative statement by an organization – something like a constitution of the system – and all other documents arise from it. The policy is written by the top management and its purpose is to define the general direction and aim of the EMS. The Environmental Policy also provides a framework for establishing EMS Objectives.

3) Procedures: EMS procedures can have different formats and structures. They can be narrative, i.e., described through text; they can be more structured by using tables; they can be more illustrative, i.e., flow charts; or they can be any combination of the above.

4) Work instructions, guidelines, and SOPs: Work instructions can be part of a procedure, or they can be referenced in a procedure. Generally, work instructions have a similar structure to the procedures and cover the same elements; however, the work instructions include details of activities that need to be realized, focusing on the sequencing of the steps, tools, and methods to be used and required accuracy.

5) Records and forms: Finally, there must be some evidence that activities and processes are performed in the way prescribed in the procedures and work instructions. This is the main purpose of the records and forms. Most of them are filled in by employees, but some of them are filled in by the top management. The best way to make them practical is to avoid requiring employees to write essays. Having records with checkboxes instead of empty rows for employees to write sentences will ensure that the forms or records are filled in quickly and easily.

ISO 14001 Policy – Environmental Management System Development Process

The ISO 14001 Policy is based in part on the findings and conclusions of the Initial Environmental Review as per ISO 14001 standard. A number of important factors need to be considered. These are essential to ensure that the policy relates not only to the enterprises individual needs and ideas, but is also in line with recognized environmental good practice and any relevant industry-specific guidelines. If the enterprise is interested in working towards ISO 14001 certification of its environmental management system (now or in the future) then it may also be important to ensure that the iso 14001 policy will conform to the requirements of such a standard.

Content of the Environmental Policy

An Environmental Policy should clearly delineate the environmental areas to be addressed by the enterprise of Organization and should be relevant to its activities, products and /or services. The policy may address very broad aspects of the enterprise’s activities (such as waste reduction), depending on the nature of those activities. Many environmental policies also include aspects of occupational health and safety including statements regarding the working environment.

The principles for environmental management system contained in the ISO Business Charter for Sustainable Development and Rio Declaration on Environmental and Development may be use as the starting point for the development of an Environmental Policy, which is specific to the needs, and character of an enterprise.

Following are the general principles of the developing ISO 14001 policy

  • Define extent of environmental responsibility (customers, suppliers, staff etc.)
  • Ensure minimum of compliance with legislation
  • Establish system to ensure full control of environmental situation (impact and risks)
  • Embody life cycle thinking
  • Work towards the achievement of sustainable development
  • Commit to development and implementation of an environmental system
  • Provide adequate resources for environmental management.
  • Provide for development of corporate standards in the absence of legislation.
  • Make commitment to continual improvement in environmental performance (step by step); this is also a requirement in EMS –standard, such as ISO 14001
  • Make commitment to prevention of pollution if compliance with ISO 14001 is intended
  • Develop Environmental performance evaluation procedures and indicators

Some ideas for the content and wording of statements of commitment in an ISO14001 Environmental Policy are given above. However, these should not be copied as such and should always be placed in context. The policy must be appropriate to the individual enterprise. It may be as brief as one sentence or as long as 10 pages.

Other important sources of information for input into the Environmental Policy development process include the following:

  • The result of the Initial Environmental review
  • The enterprise’s value and beliefs, such as its (desired) relationship with its employees, the local community and the general public.
  • The enterprise’s business strategy and strategic plan elements relating to the enterprise’s (environmental) direction, opportunities and risks, medium and long term planning including internal and external limits, and opportunities in capabilities and resources.
  • Any existing statement on environmental aspects; mission statements, old policies, previous statements of commitment in internal/external reports.
  • Other policies in existence: such as occupational health, safety, quality
  • The views of stakeholders (shareholders, staff) and other interested parties
  • Written standards: available recognised standards for environmental management system which include prescribed elements for Environmental Policy statements
  • General statements of environmental principles: e.g. from government, public bodies, industry associations, which are relevant to the individual enterprise
  • Other codes to which the enterprise subscribes
  • Examples of Environmental Policy statements: from similar companies or enterprises
  • Clear definition of the geographical and organizational boundaries of the policy: which countries/regions and which sites, departments or activities are to covered by the policy
  • Any specific local or regional conditions.

It is therefore worthwhile spending time to ensure that the environmental policy provides and exact statement of the enterprise’s objectives and can be used as a basis for the development of targets and the environmental program.