ISO 14001 Internal Audit Checklist

ISO 14001 Internal Audit Checklist

Melanie Dixon November 26, 2021

This article provides an in-depth understanding of an ISO 14001 internal audit checklist while diving into the following topics:

What is ISO 14001

Why is ISO 14001 Important

Implementation of ISO 14001

Audits for Compliance

ISO 14001 Certification

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is an internationally-recognised framework that provides organisations with the requirements of an environmental management system. An environmental management system (EMS) aligned with the ISO 14001 Standard allows an organisation to identify their environmental risks, and implement processes to ensure continual improvement.

An effectively implemented EMS allows an organisation to minimise its impact on the environment, and optimise environmental opportunities through a systematic framework. This is achieved through mapping out organisational strategic objectives and aligning them with goals and outcomes that are environmentally sustainable.

In essence, ISO 14001 provides a framework that determines how your organisation is currently impacting the environment, identifying areas of improvement and potential risks along the way.

Why is ISO 14001 Important? 

There are many reasons why an organisation should take a strategic approach to improve its environmental performance.

Users of the standard have reported that ISO 14001 helps: 

– Demonstrate compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements 

– Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees 

– Improve company reputation and confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication 

– Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management 

– Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs 

– Encourage improved environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organisation’s business systems 

Implementation of ISO 14001

Below are some key considerations for the implementation of an EMS aligned to ISO 14001.

Context of the Organisation:

Consideration of the external and internal issues that can affect the intended outcomes of the system need to be included in your EMS. The needs and expectations of interested parties should also be considered in regard to environmental management.

Emphasis on Leadership and Commitment:

It is widely recognised that a successful management system requires commitment and support from top management. Emphasis on leadership by top management is required in the Standard. This includes the integration of environmental management into the organisation’s core strategies, processes and priorities.

Risk Approach to Management:

The Standard requires the identification, determination and inclusion of aspects that can have a significant environmental impact as part of a risk based management approach. This includes the requirement for organisations to specify the criteria used to determine risk.

Life Cycle Perspective:

Thinking of each stage of a product or service as part of a lifecycle perspective is required under the Standard. This includes considering the organisation’s control or influence during procurement through to end-of-life treatments.

Audits For Compliance

An audit is a systematic, independent and documented process for determining whether your management systems and processes effectively address specific risks and are being implemented in accordance with internal and external requirements. 

The objective of an ISO 14001 audit is to assess operations to identify strengths and weaknesses, determine effectiveness and compliance, and measure progress. This will be in relation to:

– Compliance with statutory and ISO standard requirements

– Implementation of policies, standards and procedures

– Management control of environmental practices

– Staff awareness of risks and controls

– Maintaining accreditation or other external stakeholder requirements

– Exploring improvement opportunities

For more information on environmental audits, see A Guide To Environmental Audits & Inspections

ISO 14001 Internal Audit Checklist

An ISO internal audit checklist can be used as an effective tool for checking the implementation of your EMS. Self-auditing can help to define a high-level overview of your organisation’s performance, and determine the effectiveness of the management system. It can also help to identify problem areas and successfully apply principles of continuous improvement.

Self-auditing is best used as a tool to discover the potential opportunities for innovation and continuous improvement. This is not a replacement for a third party certified body audit and will not necessarily result in ISO certification.

Further details on ISO certification is provided in the next section.

ISO 14001 Certification

Accredited certification of your EMS to ISO 14001 is not a requirement, and organisations can enjoy many of the benefits from using the standard without going through the accredited certification process. 

However, third-party certification – where an independent certification body audits your practices against the requirements of the standard – is a way of signalling to your buyers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you have implemented the standard properly. What’s more, for some organisations, it helps to show how they meet regulatory or contractual requirements. 

How to get Certified to ISO 14001? 

If you would like more information on how to undertake an internal audit to be become certified, we would be happy to arrange a call to talk about your options, Contact Us

Further Resources:

Reference Article 1 – ISO 14001

Reference Article 2 – ISO 14001 Audit Checklist