Oct 17, 2017

How to Avoid the 3 Most Common ISO 14001 Nonconformances

Any company’s ISO 14001 EMS (Environmental Management System) should work interdependently. If a specific area does not work properly, it could affect all the other components. If an organization does not fix a specific problem and more importantly, it’s underlying causes as soon as possible, it could ultimately become more costly to correct down the line.

By the same token, if a company is certified to the ISO 14001 standard, a nonconformance points to an issue that could indicate that the effectiveness of the overall EMS is significantly impaired. Possible consequences of this could include delayed certification or obligatory corrective actions to be taken within a specific timeframe.

The three most common ISO 14001 nonconformances found are listed below, together with steps you can take to avoid them:

  1. Not documenting or communicating process improvements or updates

Organizations should identify any changes in the operations, including new equipment, people, etc. This is in fact a requirement of the standard. Any change should go through the review process and should then be documented. Once this has been done, the changes must be communicated clearly too all employees that have been affected. If this is not done, the changes might as well not have taken place.

  1. Missing required documentation

There is a compliance component to any EMS and a company should follow due dates specified and track them by using some of the many system tools that are available. If results of environmental monitoring are for example not submitted to a regulatory authority on time, this will raise a nonconformance. This common nonconformance is simple to avoid, but it takes discipline and the responsible person needs to be clearly identified and held accountable.

  1. Equipment calibrated inaccurate

Equipment that is used to monitor services and activities should at least be calibrated and maintained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. If there is applicable legislation governing the calibration of equipment, these should also be adhered to. It is a requirement that calibration records be made available to external auditors. If calibration is not performed properly, this often results in time-consuming and expensive actions that could have easily been avoided. This could include retesting, extra assessments, notifications and more documentation.

When a nonconformance has been identified, it is important that the company should:

  • Research and identify the root cause of the nonconformance.
  • Notify the employee responsible for addressing and correcting the situation.
  • Change existing processes if this is required.
  • Establish and execute the corrective actions required.
  • Communicate any changes made to all employees.
  • Monitor to ensure that the solutions implemented remain effective in the long term.

ISO 9001 quality management systems (QMS) are implemented using MyEasyISO software in Innsbruck (Austria), while ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 Health Safety Management Systems (HSE) are implemented with MyEasyISO in York (North Yorkshire, England).

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