This guidance document aims to give a basic overview of the changes to ISO 14001, resulting from the review and revision of the 2004 standard. It is not intended to give an exhaustive and in-depth explanation of all requirements in the new standard.
ISO standards are reviewed and revised on a regular cycle, typically every 5-10 years, and 2015 sees ISO 14001:2004 reaching the end of that review process. A draft international standard (DIS) was published, and after extensive review the final draft international standard (FDIS) was published in July. The ISO 14001:2015 standard was published in September 2015.
The ISO organization has developed a common Higher Level Structure (HLS) for management system standards, issued under an ISO Directive;
That directive has a series of annexes, of which we are interested in “Annex SL – Proposals for management systems standards”. This annex states that all management system standards will use a consistent structure, common text and terminology, and this is enacted through “Appendix 2 – High level structure, identical core text, common terms and core definitions”.
Some revised and new standards have already implemented this requirement – for example ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management Systems (revised) and ISO 55001:2014 Asset Management Standard (new).
ISO 14001 has therefore been revised in accordance with the new HLS, but it also contains additional content.
A whole range of country-level committees feed into the overall ISO committees which meet to decide on the revisions. The committee for ISO 14001 is TC 207. If you are a member of IEMA, or a trade federation, you can access the latest version(s) of the draft Standard(s) and even comment on the content.
After the new standards are published, there will be a transition period for fully complying with them. This period will be 3 years, but it is strongly recommended that you start thinking now about how it will impact you, and review what changes might be needed.