The term ISO 14001 AUDIT has been used for several different types of environmental investigations. Confusions has arisen between the terms have been used to describe the same or overlapping activities. The term environmental audit has also been used to describe three different activities.
- The compliance / performance audit used to determine the enterprise’s compliance with laws and standards,
- The audit of an environmental report,
- And the environmental management system audit used to review the implementation of an EMS.
The development of international environmental management standards has now provided some clarification and basis for differentiating between terms.
The Initial Environmental Review establishes the baseline data on the environmental status and effects of the enterprise. It usually is an activity carried out once prior to he development of an environmental management system. Whereas the Environmental Management System Audit, on the other hand, is used to assess how well the EMS is functioning.
ISO 14001 Audit Checklists
ISO 14001 audit checklist is a systematic, documented verification process of objectively obtaining and evaluating audit evidence to determine whether an organization’s EMS conforms with the EMS audit criteria, and communicating the results of this process to the client (ISO / DIS 14011). ISO 14001 audit criteria are defined as the policies practices procedures or requirements. Such as covered by ISO 14001 and, if applicable, any additional EMS requirements, against which the auditor compares, collected audit evidence about the organization’s EMS.
In other words, within the overall environmental management system, ISO 14001 audit checklists are used to determine whether environmental management activities conform to the stated program, whether these activities are effectively implemented, and how effective the environmental management system is in fulfilling the environmental policy. For convenience, the Environmental Management System Audits will be referred to here as “environmental audits”. Environmental audits are referred to in Principle 16 Compliance and Reporting of the ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development.
ISO 14001 audit should focus on the environmental objectives and action plans of the organisations to allow problem are as to be identified so that remedial action can be taken. The audit is a means of assisting managers at all levels to improve the performance of the operations under their control. It is not a check on how well people are doing their job!
Criteria and Issues of an ISO 14001 Audit
In executing and EMS – audit, one should always keep in mind that the basic iso 14001 audit questions that should be answered are as bellow.
Is the EMS complete?
Does it contain all the necessary elements? Answering this question is clearer if the organization use an EMS standard as a reference. Then the elements, which should be there, are described very clearly. Checks may need to cover:
- Environmental policy
- Environmental program
- Organizational structure, tasks, responsibilities, authorities
- Internal and external communications
- Procedures, instructions
- Training and competence
- Measuring and recording
- Corrective mechanisms
- Environmental auditing and management review processes
- Emergency procedures and plans
Questions relating to environmental policy could then e.g. be:
- Has the environmental policy been established in writing?
- Has it been communicated to all employees?
- Is it appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of the activities, products and services?
- Does it include a commitment to continual improvement of the environmental performance and to prevention of pollution?
Is it the right EMS for the activities involved?
This involves checking whether the EMS elements have been properly tailored to the nature and the complexity of the organization’s activities, and to the environmental aspects and impacts that are linked to them.
For this criterion it will be necessary to check issues such as:
- Local situation of the company
- Air, water emissions and discharges
- Soil pollution
- Handling and storage of raw materials, chemicals and hazardous substance
- Collection and disposal of wastes
- Technical environmental provisions
- Process performance and management
- Environmental risks
- Maintenance aspects.
Is it implemented well?
The auditor should check whether the system has really been implemented at all levels and activities in the organization. Also this check will have to done by sampling.
Checks may include:
- Availability and implementations of procedures
- Training records
- Availability of records and measurements reports
- Whether the environmental policy has been communicated to all employees
Is it suitable for fulfilling the environmental policy and objectives of the organization?
One can have a complete system, it can be tailored well to the nature and the complexity at hand, it can be implemented well, and still it may not be sufficient to fulfill the organization’s environmental policy and objectives. Therefore the audit should also take into account checking the real environmental performance achieved with the system against the policy and objectives.
Checks may include:
- Checking measurements of emissions and discharges against objectives.
- Checking specific provisions in licenses and regulations for compliance
The EMS system has to be implemented with planned approach and target dates have to be fixed for smooth installation of ISO: 14001. The general steps listed below have to be planned with target dates for ISO: 14001 installations:
- Conduct ISO-14001 awareness program (top + middle + bottom level).
- Form a steering committee and task force for documentation
- Identification of All Possible Environmental Aspects to the company.
- Brainstorming On Impacts of All Possible Aspects. Identification of Most Significant Aspects.
- Define Environmental Policy, Objectives and Targets.
- Prepare documents of Environment management system, Records, Legal Requirements.
- Train all for Environmental Policy and for achieving Objectives & Targets.
- Communication to all including Suppliers and Interested parties.
- Implementation & train all personnel in the use of procedures & formats.
- Reparation and Implementation of Environmental programme.
- Train internal auditors.
- Assess the system through first internal audit.
- Take corrective actions for non-conformity.
- Apply for certification.
- Assess the system through second round of internal audit.
- Avail onsite document adequacy of certifying body.
- Take actions on suggestions given by them.
- Final audit by certifying body.
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