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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

ISO 14001 and Office Based Environments

A number of our clients who currently hold ISO 14001:2004 have expressed concerns that the new 2015 standard makes a great play that significant aspects need to be incorporated into the risks and opportunities element and that a system of continual improvement needs to be put into place to address significant aspects.  Significant aspects are those defined as having a major impact on the environment.  These tend to be discharges to air, water, land or waste containing hazardous or toxic elements.

In an office environment there tend not to be any of these significant aspects and although there may be systems in place to separate paper, plastic, tins etc. and re-cycle these, together with energy reductions by turning off lights and reducing ambient temperatures, this clearly will not have any major impact on the environment.

The question being asked is “Does an office environment need ISO 14001 ?”  The short answer is no however, some purchasing authorities specify ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 as a prerequisite for tenders and those organisations not holding 14001 would be at a disadvantage.  Clearly having a third party certificated system for 14001 in an office environment is expensive and as stated above not particularly relevant.

There is another option for office based organisations wishing to have this standard:

The standard states that

“This International Standard contains the requirements used to assess conformity. An organization that wishes to demonstrate conformity with this International Standard can do so by:

  1. making a self-determination and self-declaration, or
  2. seeking confirmation of its conformance by parties having an interest in the organization, such as customers, or
  3. seeking confirmation of its self-declaration by a party external to the organization, or
  4. seeking certification/registration of its environmental management system by an external
  5. organization.

Option 1 – self declaration would seem to be the best of both worlds:

Retain 14001 while reducing the costs.  Obviously the organisation would need to show evidence that the standard was being followed and internally audited but no external certification would be necessary.

Organisations that DO HAVE significant aspects should always follow the formal certification route with a UKAS Accredited Certification Body  to evidence compliance with the standard and environmental legislation.

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