Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Regulatory Compliance and ISO 14001 - Are They Equivalent?

“A manufacturing facility has worked for nearly two years to develop programs and procedures to become ISO 14001 registered. At the end of a three-day registration audit they gain registration under ISO 14001 through a well respected third-party registrar.

The following month, the facility is subject to a routine compliance audit directed by its corporate EH&S Department. The audit identifies numerous deficiencies and findings in the facility’s compliance with environmental regulations.”

The obvious question asked by plant management is "does ISO 14001 registration have any relationship to compliance with environmental regulations"?

The answer is certainly yes, however it can not be assumed that simply because a facility is ISO 14001 registered it is also in compliance with applicable regulations.

In the example described above, the compliance audit is actually part of the environmental management system (EMS), not an independent measure of the effectiveness of the EMS. An ISO 14001 compliant EMS requires that the organization periodically assess its compliance with applicable regulations. The key measure of the effectiveness of the EMS is how the corrective actions are addressed once a compliance issue was identified, and were corrective actions effective.

If similar compliance issues continue to be identified during subsequent audits, there may be a breakdown of the EMS that needs to be addressed. However, the organization should not be surprised if compliance issues are identified during audits moving forward. Overall, by assessing compliance and responding appropriately, the organization will be on track to continuously improve of its EMS.

Caltha LLP provides expert technical assistance to organizations wanting to become registered under ISO 14001 or to improve their EMS. For more information go to ISO 14001 and Environmental Management Systems Services website.

For further information contact Caltha LLP at
Caltha LLP Website

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