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How to integrate ISO 14001 and ISO 9001

Author: Mark Hammar

If you have an ISO 9001 compliant quality management system (QMS), how hard is it to integrate an environmental management system (EMS) per ISO 14001 into your existing system? It may surprise you how easy this is, because many of the processes are the same in both systems. I briefly described this in the article Integrating ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, but here is further detail on what you will need to do.

What will already be there?

If your quality management system is compliant with ISO 9001, then you will already have the following processes in place:

  • Policy creation and dissemination
  • Objectives creation and dissemination
  • Competence, training, and awareness processes
  • Communication of management system information
  • Control of system documentation
  • Control of records
  • Control of non-conformities
  • Corrective action and preventive action
  • Internal audit
  • Management review

You will need to update these processes to also include the new EMS information, but you will not need to create new processes to deal with these requirements of the EMS. For instance, you will need to identify which EMS records are controlled, but the method of control and storage will already be decided per your existing process. The same can be said for internal audit and management review; these activities just need to include the audit and review for environmental management, but the processes and procedures of how this is done will already be in place.

What main processes will you need to add?

Some of the first main steps for implementing your ISO 14001 compliant EMS will entail using your existing processes, but some will require new processes and procedures to be created. In the article 5 elements of a successful ISO 14001 project I talked about starting with the following basics when embarking on your EMS implementation. In this way you will have a good foundation for all other elements of your environmental management system:

  • Environmental policy: Using your existing process for policy creation and dissemination to make a new policy, or edit your existing QMS policy, to include the goals and guidelines required to properly direct the implementation and maintenance of your EMS.
  • Legal requirements: This will require a new process to ensure that you identify all the environmental legal requirements that are applicable for your company. The process also needs to ensure that you maintain compliance with the requirements by keeping up to date with changes as they come out. Knowing these requirements and how they apply to your company is crucial for the next step.
  • Environmental aspects: This is the second big new process required by ISO 14001. With this process you will need to identify all the ways in which your company’s processes interact with the environment and assess which are significant and which are not. For the significant environmental aspects, you will later need to identify the criteria and operational controls necessary to ensure that these significant aspects do not result in significant negative impacts to the environment.
  • Objective, targets and programs: While your existing process for creating and maintaining objectives can be used, you will need to update this process to include targets and programs, as this is not a requirement of ISO 9001. Then, new objectives and targets for environmental management will need to be created and managed, and you will need to create the programs applicable to your environmental objectives and targets.

Use what is already in place to the fullest to make EMS implementation easier

By taking the time to identify what parts of your already existing management system can be made applicable to your integrated environmental management system, you will be able to save yourself time and effort in the long run, since these processes will already be identified, known, and maintained. In this way, it will take less effort to bring the employees involved up to speed, and thereby greatly decrease the time needed to implement your EMS within your organization. Duplication is a waste you do not need when making your management systems as effective as possible.

To see all the similarities and differences between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 use this free: ISO 14001:2015 vs. ISO 9001:2015 matrix.

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