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Chris Pollington CMIOSH

Ready for ISO 14001

The revision to ISO 14001 has been long awaited.The revision to ISO 14001 has been long awaited.

October 2015

ISO 14001 is the most widely accepted environmental management system in the world. The revision to ISO 14001 has been long awaited.

The new environmental management standard offers significant benefits to its users compared to its 1996 and 2004 predecessors. These benefits focus on two areas:

  • Integration with other standards
  • Additional requirements


ISO 14001:2015 is specifically designed to help the increasing number of organisations who wish to have an integrated management system. The revised structure is based on the widely understood and highly effective Plan-Do-Check-Act Model. This provides easier integration between ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and the impending replacement for OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001, which is expected in 2016.

Additional Requirements

The standard’s additional requirements focus on corporate sustainability and competitive advantage through the following:

  • An emphasis on leadership from top management
  • Understanding of the strategic context of the organisation’s activities
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication
  • A focus on the effective management of risks and opportunities; risks may be both to and from the organisation
  • Integration of a life cycle perspective into the design and development of products and services

Attendees on the IEMA Associate Certificate in Environmental Management course, for example, will already be familiar with these topics and their critical importance to the organisation’s economic resilience.

Effective leadership underpins all successful management systems. Both ISO 14001:2015 and the impending ISO 45001 require top management to lead, promote, communicate and direct others in short, to lead from the front and to lead by example.


Organisations which are currently certified to ISO 14001 have a three-year transition period in which to attain the requirements of the new standard. They should be considering a gap analysis which considers both the requirements of ISO 14001 together with other applicable standards such as ISO 9001 and the forthcoming ISO 45001.

New to ISO 14001?

Many organisations have put off ISO 14001 certification, pending the release of the new standard. Now is the time for these organisations to consider whether certification is appropriate to them. The standard is very different from its predecessors. A simple but considered gap analysis together with focussed consideration of all internal and external interested parties should highlight the next steps.

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