LRQA ISO Standards Revision; ISO/DIS 14001 - an interview with Steve Williams, LRQA

Welcome to the LRQA ISO Standards Revision Podcast Series.

In this episode, Steve Williams, LRQA’s System and Governance Manager, updated us following the publishing of ISO/DIS 14001:2014. Steve is a member of the ISO Technical Committee responsible for the revision to ISO 14001, the global Environmental Management System Standard. To listen to the interview, please click here.

Interviewer: Steve, if you can start off by telling us, give us a bit of background into what you consider some of the key changes to 14001 and if you think those key changes are being driven by Annex SL or if you think the majority of the key changes are being driven by the 14001 Technical Committee.

Steve Williams: The changes that are been driven by Annex SL are very similar to the ones that have been, taken place within 9001. You’ve got the changes in relation to documentation which is the changes of the terms. So now that we have the term ‘documented information’ rather than procedures or records which is a term that has come from Annex SL. We have the incorporation of the environmental management system into the strategic thinking of the organisation that again has been driven by Annex SL. And we have the increased responsibilities on the leadership of the organisation that has been driven by Annex SL. It’s particularly in relation to the environmental management system.

Interviewer: Talk us through some of the changes that have come out of the Technical Committee developing 14001 that are specifically driven by that group and not coming from Annex SL.

Steve Williams: Most of the changes relate to enhancing the way in which an organisation will be able to protect the environment using their environmental management system. It started a policy level and the policy now talks in terms of an organisation committing to protecting the environment. This is an expansion over the previous policy commitments which were limited to prevention of pollution, compliance with legislation. This is a more generic term which is looking for companies to look at their overall environment not just stopping them polluting the local environment.

The next change comes in relation to the system is now being written in order not just simply to continually improve the system, but also the system is required to enhance a companies or an organisations’ environmental performance and this is also a key change.

14001 will introduce the terminology of lifecycle perspective, lifecycle thinking. So an organisation will have to look at their products and services from basically the beginning to the end of its lifecycle. So that incorporates looking at how they will control outsourced processes, those that they can control and those that they can influence. So they need to determine first what can they control and what can they influence, and then apply the appropriate controls or influence within the system. They also need to look at the end of life treatment and the disposal of their products or of the service that they use. This will also extend into areas such as design, because if you are looking at designing new products, if you are looking at the lifecycle of that product or of that service you will need to look at its design to see how you can be, improve the environmental performance of the product or service.

Another area which is key within the standard is in the area of communication both internal and external. Whilst this was covered by the previous standard, within the new standard there is a need now for the company to produce a process by which they will determine what they will communicate, when they will communicate and to who they will communicate.

The other change that has happened as a result of Annex SL is that the Plan, Do, Check, Act model within 14001 has been redrawn to reflect the Annex SL structure.

Interviewer: Tell us about what your thoughts are on what an organisation should be doing now that the DIS has been issued.

Steve Williams: I think they need to get a hold of a copy of the standard first of all and start looking at the requirements within it. Whilst there is a likelihood that the wording of those requirements will change going forward as we move from DIS to FDIS, the strategic direction of the standard and the requirements within it are unlikely to change. So they need to look at the standard, see how those new requirements impact upon their organisation, talk with their certification body to see how they can help them out, and look to see what training they think they will be requiring to accommodate the new requirements in the new standard.

Interviewer: What about organisations that have integrated systems and how will the introduction of Annex SL across all standards, how will that impact the way they manage their management systems?

Steve Williams: What they need to do is to start looking at the requirements within 9, 9001 and the requirements within 14001 and these will give them a really good indication as to the direction in which they need to move their management systems in order to accommodate the Annex SL requirements. The changes that will occur to the replacement for OHSAS 18001 will be in line with the requirements of Annex SL. So all of the requirements of the three key standards will now align under the terminologies within Annex SL. So by looking at 9001, looking at 14001 they should be able to start shaping their system for the future.

Interviewer: Steve, so how about when we talk about interested parties. What has changed with the new 14001?

Steve Williams: With regards to the new 14001 the new section on context of the organisation means that a company has to have a process in place for the identification of internal and external interested parties. To be able to identify what their views are and to identify the ones that are key to the environmental performance of the organisation. Once they have done this they need to take that into account when they are looking at designing their environmental management system. So it’s now a key part of the new requirements. 

Interviewer: So Steve, talk to us about the likely impact that the new ISO 14001 DIS will have on smaller organisations.

Steve Williams: Because the leadership of smaller organisations is much closer to what they do, they will have a much clearer idea as to the context in which the organisation operates, who are their interested parties and what they want the scope of the management system, the environmental management system to deliver. So for a number of smaller organisations implementation of 14001 should be fairly straight forward or simpler.

Interviewer: You’ve seen all the features in the new 14001, how does that impact organisations and creating their personal transition plan from the existing 14001 to the new 14001?

Steve Williams: That will very much depend upon where they are on the journey. It will depend upon the maturity of their system and what they have included and managed within their current environmental management system. What they need to be do is what. What they need to be doing is working with their certification body to identify what needs to be within their transition plan, and that transition plan can be formulated through a GAP analysis that’s been undertaken by the certification body which will tell them where they currently are in relation to the new requirements and where they need to move to. It may also identify any training needs that are necessary for the organisation.

Interviewer: So how about the transition timelines. If we take into account that ISO are saying September 2015 would be the publishing of the new standard, what kind of timelines are we looking at for organisations?

Steve Williams: It is anticipated that the transition period for the new standard will be three years and that will be three years from the publication date of the standard itself. It is up to the company when they actually wish to do the transition. If they feel that they are ready on the publication date of the standard, they can approach their certification body and ask to be certified against the new requirements from that date. However, if they feel that they need to take time in developing their new system then they can transition any time between then and the September 2018 date.

Interviewer: So Steve obviously this goes through a series of steps to become an ISO standard. Talk to us about what your thoughts are on the likelihood of change between the DIS and the next version the FDIS, the Final Draft International Standard.

Steve Williams: There is always a potential for the requirements to change, but as I said earlier, the strategic direction of the standard is fairly well set now. We are now looking at just the level of detail within the requirements. Does it require a procedure, does it require a record. The, or shall I say documented information.

The physical changes that will take place will be based upon comments that we will receive from the National Standards Bodies who will be reviewing and external interested parties. The commenting period commences on the 28th of August and will last for three months. There will be a meeting in Tokyo in February of the Drafting Committee where those comments will be reviewed. Following that meeting the next, the Final Draft International Standard will be published and that, once that is published the requirements are basically set in stone. Any changes after that will purely be of a grammatical or editorial nature.

Interviewer: For those organisations looking to transition, what would be your advice, your three step plan to get those organisations on the road to ISO 14001: 2015?

Steve Williams: My three step plan would be, first of all get a copy of the standard and read it and see how it impacts upon your organisation and your organisations’ environmental management system. The second step would be to talk to your certification body and see whether they can help you. The third step is to develop a transition plan working with your certification body. That may involve them undertaking a GAP analysis for you to identify the gap between your existing system and the new requirements, and it may involve some training and that could be either internal training of your personnel or even training by external organisations.

Thank you for listening to the LRQA ISO Standards Revision Podcast Series. For more information on the revisions to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, as well as information on Annex SL, please visit .