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ISO 14001: Program Verification

February 18, 2014 - Kestrel Management

As a company is designing an environmental management system (EMS), there must be guidelines to help ensure that the EMS will improve the environmental performance of the organization and meet all clause requirements based on the standard chosen.

Management has three options—all of which should be employed to varying degrees to ensure success and registration to the ISO 14001 standard.

  1. Internal Audits
    Internal audits are the basic and most fundamental actions for meeting the standard requirements. It is very important that your internal auditors are properly trained in the functions of management system auditing. They should have a reasonable understanding of the environmental legal requirements that the organization is required to follow. One management employee should guide other auditors on reviewing and assessing compliance with known legal requirements for the organization as a whole.
  2. Management Review
    Management Review meetings are the second method for an organization to assure itself that all environmental legal requirements are known, understood, and fully implemented. One of the stated requirements in a management review meeting is to review compliance with all environmental requirements and to show that the organization knows and understands future environmental legal requirements. The management team must have an action plan developed to implement any new environmental legal requirements prior to them becoming law of the land. If there is any doubt about implementation, it becomes senior management’s responsibility to seek out legal opinions on compliance and employ change, as required, to ensure environmental compliance.
  3. Register of Requirements
    The organization should develop a register check to outline all clause requirements from the standard chosen and develop a legal requirements matrix highlighting federal and state EPA requirements.

    Again it is senior management’s responsibility to know and understand all environmental legal requirements the organization is required to follow. If there is any doubt, it would be advantageous for the organization to hire an attorney or consultant well-versed in these laws and regulations to ensure compliance. The standards also require organizations to remain in compliance under environmental laws and regulations. Therefore, the organization must develop a methodology for seeking/learning about new laws and regulations before they become something that must be followed on a daily basis.

By following these three guidelines for improvement and environmental program verification, an organization will more successfully earn its certification to an EMS. This certification is greatly influenced and enhanced by a number of factors, including design and implementation of the management system, internal auditing of the management system, senior management review of the environmental management system, and third-party assessment and assistance with interpreting requirements on a regular basis.

Submitted by: Randy Block

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