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Quality Digest

Standards

ISO 14001 Revisions to Be Published Soon

Published: Monday, September 6, 2004 - 22:00

The revised ISO 14001 standard is scheduled to be published by the end of the year, meaning significant changes to environmental management professionals.

According to the International Organization for Standardization, the changes to the standard aim to clarify it and make it more user-friendly. Additionally, it aligns some clauses with ISO 9001:2000. Among the proposed changes are:

  • Requirements to define the scope of the environment management system (EMS) by describing the included operations, activities, products and services
  • Requirements to document the evaluation of how an EMS meets the standard’s requirements
  • Documentation analysis that auditors satisfy the standard’s requirements for competence
  • New definitions of pollution, which is described in the revised standard as being the “creation, emission and discharge of any type of pollutant”
  • Requirements that environmental performance improvement be demonstrated in the EMS (rather than the focus being on improving the management system)

Connie Glover Ritzert, chairperson of the U.S. SubTAG 1 to TC 207, reports that the U.S. delegation to the technical committee that developed the revisions opposed adding new requirements to the 1996 version of ISO 14001, but that position was in the minority on the TC.

“The general opinion expressed in the most recent US SubTAG 1 meeting was that the revised standard (is) not really more clear than the 1996 version,” Ritzert states. “There was also general agreement, however, that the revised standard could be implemented without major problems by most organizations.

“The revised ISO 14001 is not perfect,” she continues. “It is not exactly the standard we would have written in the U.S. It is, however, a consensus standard for the ISO process, and I continue to support the use of this international consensus EMS standard for the value it brings to environmental management.”

Along with minor changes in wording relating to the notification about an EMS to subcontractors, temporary staff and permanent employees, the draft revision also includes more major changes, such as a requirement that registered companies establish external communication systems about their EMS, an expanded list of documents registered companies have to keep and a clarified requirement that management should “ensure the availability of resources” essential to the EMS, rather than simply “provide resources” for it.

For more information, visit www.iso.org.

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