Last week in Sweden Gothenburg, I attended the second full meeting of the ISO Technical Committee to develop guidance for implementing EMS based on the revised ISO14001 standard. This meeting followed on from that held in Rochester, USA. As a recap, ISO14001 is being revised with an expected publication date in early 2015. What we already know is that ISO14001 will be one of the first management system standards to be based on the ISO High Level Structure. We therefore know what the main conceptual changes in ISO14001 will be, even if there is much ‘wordsmithing' to do. The main changes will be:
- Understanding the context of the organisation both internal (e.g. corporate governance and organisational structure) and external (e.g. political system, education, natural conditions) and how these may affect the ability of the organisation to achieve the intended outcomes of its EMS. Determining the interested parties relevant to the EMS of an organisation and their needs and expectations. Both of these requirements should be taken account of when defining the scope of the EMS, but also when evaluating aspects.
- An external communication strategy must be developed, stating what who and when information will be communicated. Although the strategy could say no communication will take place, the principle of continual improvement will require the communication strategy to improve with time.
- The EMS must be incorporated in the strategy of the organisation, through the context described above, but also by strengthening the role of the leaders within the organisation
- Consider the affect the external environment has on the organisation. This will be an important part of ISO14001 going forward (particularly as one has to remember this revision will be used well into the 2020s) as the risk of the environment curtailing an organisation will increase with climate change and resource scarcity.
The area which I drafted guidance text for prior to the meeting was the clause relating to the needs and expectations of interested parties. The draft guidance developed thus far has a strong leaning towards the good work already established under the heading of stakeholder engagement, particularly the Accountability standard. However, we will stop far short of requiring organisations to undertake stakeholder engagement, rather in the first instance this clause could be met through a desk top exercise of interested parties and their needs and expectations, although as the EMS improves so will the methods used to determine interested parties. I would be very keen to hear from those companies that have ISO14001 but also undertake stakeholder engagement, so please get in touch to help me ensure that the guidance is practical and useful.
EEF will present on the ISO14001 revision process at the next H&S and Environment update sessions held across the country in May. For more information and to book your place please click here.