The journey to ISO 14001 revision

With the global Environmental Management System (EMS) ISO 14001 currently being revised by the ISO, Steve Williams - LRQA Deputy Technical Director and member of the ISO TC 207 (ISO 14001 Revision) Technical Committee - talked about the latest developments in the ISO 14001 revision process. 

Where are we in the revision process for ISO 14001?

The work so far on the revision process for ISO 14001 has taken us from the working draft stage through to the first committee draft stage. As a result of that, it is likely that there will be a second committee draft (CD2) which could be published in Nov/Dec 2013. This then will be subject to further review, after which there will hopefully be a draft international standard (DIS) published, with the current date being forecast by ISO as April 2014. Once that has been reviewed and commented on, this will then pass to the final draft international standard stage (FDIS), currently forecast for January 2015.

Once the standard has reached the FDIS stage, it is unlikely there will be any changes to the technical content.  It is at this point that companies will be looking to see what they have to do to make the transition to the new requirements.

May 2015 is currently being quoted by ISO as the likely publication date for ISO 14001.

What should organisations do if they wish to become ISO 14001 certified?

If an organisation is thinking about being certified against ISO 14001, it will very much depend upon where they are in the design and implementation cycle of their management system.

If they are in the early stages, they may wish to delay the decision to see what will be the requirements within the new standard. If they are already under way within the design and development cycle, they may wish to proceed with the existing standard keeping one eye on the future requirements that will be developed.

Depending on when they feel they are ready for certification, they may wish to proceed against the requirements of the existing standard and then transition to the new requirements within the transition period rather than jumping straight in.

What transition plans are there for organisations who currently have ISO 14001:2004?

When the new standard is eventually published, ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), will meet together to decide what the transition period will be for clients to transfer to the new standard. That transition period will be dependent upon the complexity of the changes that are finally agreed for the new standard. This period could be anywhere between one and three years.

Are there any key dates that need to be met during the transition period?

The first of those key dates will apply to LRQA and that will be the date after which we are not allowed to issue any contracts to certify companies against the existing version of ISO 14001.

The other key date is where all organisations with ISO 14001 must have transferred to the new version of the standard.

And the third and final key date will be the date by which all certificates against the existing version of ISO 14001 will have to be withdrawn and are no longer considered valid.


Posted by: Steve Williams, LRQA Deputy Technical Director, July 2013