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.

Advertisements

Requirement of ISO 14001 Manual for Effective Environment Management System within Organization

ISO 14001 manual describes the Environmental Management System (EMS) policies to the requirements as stated in the environmental policy and meet the ISO 14001 standards. This manual also describes objectives and responsibilities of the Environmental Management System (EMS) and provides a link to the system documents to the various elements of the ISO 14001 standard.

The principal elements of the system described in ISO 14001 Manual are:ISO 14001 Manual, Environmental Management System

  • Environmental Aspects
  • Legal and Other Requirements
  • Environmental Objectives and Targets
  • Training, Awareness and Competence
  • Documentation
  • Document Control
  • Monitoring and Measurement
  • Management Review

Environment Aspects: The Environmental Management Team identifies the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services within the defined scope of the EMS, which can control and can influence taking into account planned or new developments and new or modified activities, products and services and which they can be expected to have an impact, and determines which of these aspects are considered to be significant.

Legal and other Requirements: Additional information is also available through legal publications. Local regulations are identified, accessed and communicated by the Environmental Management Representative. At least annually, the Environmental Management Representative will review the latest national, regional, provincial, European and local legal and other requirements for better environment system.

Environmental Objectives and Targets: Environmental objectives and targets are developed considering significant environmental, technological options and financial, operational and business plans, and the views of interested parties, with the goal of continuous improvement.

Training, Awareness and Competence: Environmental Management team has an environmental procedure to train employees at each relevant function and level so that they are aware of the environmental policy, significant environmental aspects, their roles and responsibilities for compliance with policies and procedures, and requirements of the Environmental Management System.

Documentation: ISO 14001 Manual identifies all documents to the Environmental Management System relevant. A copy of Environmental Management System documents, with the exception of visual aids and panels, can be obtained from the Environmental Management Representative.

Document Control: This procedure describes where documents can be located and how and when they are assessed. This procedure provides for the adoption of adequacy prior to release, and updating as necessary and re-approved, which included changes and ensures that the current versions are available and that obsolete documents are promptly removed from use or appropriately are identified, they are available at point of use and they remain legible and readily identifiable.

Monitoring and Measurement: Environmental procedure to track and measure the key characteristics of its operations and activities that can have a significant impact on the environment. Including monitoring the documenting of information to the performance, applicable operational controls and compliance with the objectives and targets organizations.

Management Review: Environment Management Team assesses ensure all elements of the Environmental Management System annually to the continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness.