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ISO 14001 Certification

Author: Mark Hammar

ISO 14001 Certification is a general term that is used for two main things; certifying the knowledge of individuals and certifying a company’s environmental management system. What is ISO 14001 certification, you may ask?

Certifying of Individuals

ISO 14001 Certifications for individuals allow the people involved to develop and advance a career in environmental management system auditing by proving their skills for potential employers. The individual certifications supply the information, knowledge and skills needed to create and maintain an Environmental Management System (often called an EMS) for a company using ISO 14001 as a basis. There are many courses available including; two day courses on implementing ISO 14001, ISO 14001 Internal Auditor courses of two to three days, and even ISO 14001 Lead Auditor training which is usually in a 5 day format and includes a test.

The lead auditor course can only be delivered by a company that itself has been accredited as being able to present ISO 14001 lead auditor training. Additionally, an individual can only be certified as an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor if the course they took was certified as an acceptable course. Certified individuals can be hired by a certification body (explained below) to audit a company’s Environmental Management System against the ISO 14001 standard.

For more information on ISO 14001 training and becoming an ISO 14001 lead auditor see ISO 14001 Training.

Certifying an Environmental Management System

The ISO 14001 certification process for companies starts when the company decides to implement an EMS that meets the ISO 14001 requirements. After this the company will utilize the ISO 14001 requirements as a guideline of what needs to be done and will take all actions necessary to create, document, maintain and review their system. After this is complete the certified lead auditors from a certification body (sometimes called a Registrar) will audit and assess the environmental management system against the requirements of ISO 14001. If the auditors find that the system meets the standard an ISO 14001 certificate will be issued showing that the company’s EMS is acceptable and the company is then considered ISO 14001 certified.

For a good overview of this process see ISO 14001 Implementation Process Diagram.

The Cycle for a Company to Maintain ISO 14001 Certification

The ISO 14001 certification is not simply a onetime thing since it is part of the ISO 14001 certification requirements that the EMS be maintained and improved. The certification body will have an agreement with the company that continues after the initial audit (the certification audit) and will include ongoing routine audits of the system (called surveillance or maintenance audits). Typically this agreement will cover a three year cycle with the initial certification audit covering the entire ISO 14001 EMS, and the next two year’s maintenance audits only reviewing a portion of the system. As per the agreement between the company and the certification body the maintenance audits can happen annually, twice per year, or even more often. Each element of the entire system is audited at least one time during the two years of maintenance audits. If at the end of three years the company chooses to maintain the ISO 14001 certification and the benefits it provides; the cycle will start again with a recertification audit that reviews the entire system.

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