ISO 9001 is often associated with increased productivity, efficiency and more satisfied customers than imply greater sales. As such many organizations pursue ISO 9001 certification. ISO 14001 however does not immediately come across as a standard that can allow a company lower operating costs and increased revenues from a better public image. ISO 14001 Lead Auditor training changed my perception of this.

ISO 14001 lead auditor training by QMII conducted over a course of 4 days introduced me to the requirements of the standard so that I could both implement it within my organization as well as assess the effectiveness of the implementation. So what are the steps needed to implement an environmental management system that meets the requirements of ISO 14001.

The first and most important step as with all management system implementation is getting buy-in from management system. While top management need not necessarily undergo ISO 14001 lead auditor training it will be helpful for them to undergo an overview training, so they understand the expectations of leadership per the standard. The risks to the business and needs of stakeholders need to be considered next. Based on this a scope, or boundary wall, of the system will be developed.

The organization then needs to make a list of all the processes and consider those aspects of the processes that have or may have an impact on the environment. A criterion will need to be agreed to for assessing the environmental risks. Based on this criterion significant risks will need to be identified. These significant aspects/impacts then need to be controlled to bring them to an acceptable level by the implementation of controls in the processes.

Once a plan to control the environmental impacts and the compliance obligations of the company have been determined, the system then needs to be resourced including providing the competent personnel and documentation to support the system. Competent personnel will include personnel trained as ISO 14001 lead auditors, who will conduct the internal audits of the organization to determine the effectiveness of implementation of the system. Along with internal audits other planned measurement and monitoring should be determined to assess different parameters and performance indicators. These are the leading indicators for management so they may take action to aver a potential risk before incurring the cost of a non-conformity or non-compliance.

ISO 14001 lead auditor training will also introduce the other aspects of ISO 14001 implementation such as the need for emergency response plans and testing, the need for a review by management, a process to control non-conformities and implement corrective actions & for a methodology whereby the organization continually improves the system with each iteration of the plan-do-check-act cycle.

Well implemented systems will deliver the benefits such as reduced operating costs, lower carbon footprint, and better pubic image.