How to use an ISO 14001 self-assessment compliance checklist

Implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) that meets the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 is not the same for all organizations. Often your company will already be doing something about environmental protection, even without the ISO 14001 requirements, so how do you compare this with what is required? How can you tell if these processes meet the requirements of the standard? How can you tell what more needs to be done? This is where the ISO 14001 self-assessment checklist can help.

What is a self-assessment compliance checklist?

The self-assessment compliance checklist, which is often called a gap analysis tool, is used to help you to compare your current processes against the requirements of a standard. The self-assessment compliance tool (or gap analysis) will include all of the requirements of a standard for you to compare against your current practices.

For ISO 14001:2015 the gap analysis checklist would take the requirements of the standard that you need to have in place to be compliant, and would ask you to identify any current policies, practices and processes that would meet these requirements. You would then compare these processes to see which requirements you have met and which you haven’t. Doing this will show you the gaps in your processes that need to be addressed.

For more information on why you would use a gap analysis tool for ISO 14001:2015 implementation, see the article: Is a gap analysis desirable for ISO 14001 implementation?

The two types of self-assessment checklist?

There are generally 2 types of self-assessment checklists available for use. The first gives you an overview of your current compliance, such as an online comparison tool. The second type will detail what exactly you need to do to meet the standard requirements by going over every requirement.

For the overview style of the gap analysis tool you will simply answer questions that compare your current practices against the overall standard requirements. These questions would look like this: “Have you determined the interested parties for your EMS and their relevant requirements?” These self-assessment compliance checklists are often available online and, at the end, will give you a report of the main elements of the EMS that are missing. Knowing which elements are missing will help you meet the requirements of the standard. At the beginning of the implementation process, these gap analysis tools are extremely useful in helping you identify the scope of work that needs to be done. This will let you better budget your time and resources, although they may not identify every single requirement. For a free online tool to give you an overview of the compliance of your current environmental processes against the ISO 14001:2015 standard, see this ISO 14001:2015 Gap Analysis Tool.

The second type of gap analysis tool that you will want to use becomes helpful once you have started your project. There is more work than just answering some good questions, and this compliance assessment will address each requirement of the standard. Normally, it takes the form of a table or spreadsheet that lists out every ‘‘shall’’ statement in the standard for you to assess. The steps in using this tool are:

  • Acquire/Create checklist – This is often done in a spreadsheet, as mentioned above, and requires you to list out all of the requirements. Since the word ‘’shall’’ is the key word used in the ISO standard to denote a requirement, it is important to make sure that you do not miss any in your list, even if you don’t think they apply to you. These ‘’shall’’ statements are found in clauses 4 through 10. You will not find any ‘’shall’’ statement in notes that are found throughout the standard or appendices; these are only for clarification.
  • Compare to practices – Now go through every ‘’shall’’ statement and answer yes/no as to whether this is already met by the environmental practices in your organization. All requirements must be met in order to comply with the standard, and there are no requirements that can be excluded from your EMS.
  • Assess compliance – Check all of the requirements and assess which requirements are fully met, partially met, and not met at all. For fully met requirements you have everything you need, for the others there is some work to do.
  • Identify the gaps – For the requirements which are partially met or not met, identify what needs to be done to fully meet them. These are the gaps which you need to fill to make your current practices fully compliant to the ISO 14001.
  • Make plans to address the gaps – For each gap identified, make plans on how to fully meet the requirements of the standard. Do you need to update a current practice to add rules to be met? Do you need to create a new process to meet certain requirements? What steps need to be taken and what resources will you require?

ISO 14001 self-assessment checklist - How to use it

By completing the detailed gap analysis tool, you now know what needs to be done to be fully compliant to ISO 14001:2015. As each plan is completed, you can track how far you have come and how far you still need to go.

Use a self-assessment checklist for better implementation planning

The use of the gap analysis, also called the ISO 14001 self-assessment compliance checklist, can help you better identify the actions needed to meet all requirements. It will help you to better plan and track these actions to become fully complaint to the standard, while taking into account the practices you already have in place within your organization. You can avoid unnecessary work, while still making sure that you do not miss any required elements of the EMS. This way, you can attain full compliance faster with fewer resources and less work.

Click here to use this free ISO 14001:2015 Gap Analysis Tool.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.