Environmental Management System Audit Checklist: Are You ISO 14001 Compliant?

Environmental Management System Audit Checklist: Are You ISO 14001 Compliant?

Every day it seems there's more news concerning the environment and the effect we have on it. Large and small companies are taking the reports to heart, carefully evaluating their impact on the environment and implementing environmental management systems (EMS) to mitigate the consequences of their actions. Read on to learn about the role that an environmental management system audit checklist can play in the process of becoming ISO 14001:2015 certified.

What is an Environmental Management System?

An EMS comprises all the processes, policies and practices a company uses to manage its environmental impact. Many companies take their commitment one step further and have their EMS audited and certified to ISO 140001:2015, the international standard governing environmental management systems.

What Does ISO 14001:2015 Cover?

The ISO standard touches on anything that can affect the environment, including (but not limited to):

  • Energy usage
  • Staff training
  • Leadership
  • Waste disposal
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Water usage and treatment
  • Air emissions

ISO 14001 includes seven key sections, such as context, planning, support, operation and improvement, that outline the requirements for certification.
A comprehensive environmental management system audit checklist will review each component of ISO 14001:2015.

What Are the Benefits of ISO 14001:2015 Certification?

The primary benefit of ISO 14001:2015 certification is the assurance that you have an EMS in place that lessens your company's environmental impact. It doesn't guarantee against a catastrophe, but it does show your company's commitment to avoiding incidents.
Companies that are certified to ISO 14001:2015 also report tangential benefits to their certification, like:

  • Lower waste disposal costs
  • Reduced energy expenses
  • Decreased insurance premiums
  • Improved relationships with stakeholders
  • Better public relations
  • New business opportunities

What is the ISO 14001:2015 Audit Process?

ISO 14001:2015 certification is not a one-and-done process. It comprises four audits:
  • Initial certification audit (which has two stages)
  • Surveillance audit at the end of the first year
  • Surveillance audit at the end of the second year
  • Recertification audit performed three months before the end of the third year 
Each audit plays an essential role in ensuring your company attains — and maintains — its ISO certification.

Environmental Management System Audit Checklist

What is The Importance of An ISO 14001:2015 Audit Checklist?

Before contracting for an initial ISO 14001:2015 certification audit, it can be helpful to perform an internal audit to see how close your company is to certification. The audit can be complicated, and an EMS audit checklist is a vital tool in navigating that process. When you perform your internal audit, an ISO 14001:2015 checklist will keep you on track.

What Should An Environmental Management System Audit Checklist Include?

There are a variety of EMS audit checklists available online, each with its own approach. The International Organization for Standardization has issued a checklist for small businesses that divides the audit process into 16 steps covering the ISO 14001 requirements. The parts of that ISO 14001:2015 audit checklist include:

  • Environmental management
  • Scope of the environmental management system
  • Environmental policy
  • Environmental aspects and legal requirements
  • Environmental objectives, targets and programs
  • Resources, roles, responsibility and authority
  • Competence, training and awareness
  • Communication
  • Documentation

The ISO 14001:2015 checklist also incorporates:

  • Operational control
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Checking and internal audit
  • Management review and continual improvement
  • Demonstrating conformity
  • Integration with other management systems

What Questions Should an EMS Audit Checklist Cover?

An effective environmental management audit checklist will include questions concerning:

  • Air emissions
  • Wastewater management
  • Waste management
  • Handling and storage of hazardous materials
  • Soil and groundwater protection
  • Noise control
  • Resource consumption
  • Other environmental impacts (like odor, dust or vibrations)
  • Supply chain impact
  • Environmental aspects identification

The questions vary somewhat from topic to topic. These questions concerning air emissions are typical of those covered by an ISO 14001:2015 audit checklist:

  • Do you generate emissions?
  • Do you monitor emissions?
  • Do you have objectives and targets for your emissions?
  • Do you have documented processes for identifying, monitoring and controlling emissions?
  • Have you conducted training for emissions procedures?
  • Have you audited your processes?
  • Do you have a site plan illustrating emission points?

Similar questions should be included for each part of your EMS audit checklist. ISO 14001:2015 comprises a wide range of regulations, and a comprehensive checklist will help you through the process.

Trust Your ISO 14001:2015 Audit Needs to Smithers

We have years of experience with the ISO 14001:2015 audit process and can help steer your team through the certification process. We'll get to know your business and provide guidance targeted to your specific needs. Contact us today to take advantage of our ISO 14001:2015 expertise.

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