ISO 14001: a high five.

Author:Mors, Terry A.

If your attitude about ISO 14001 is "I just want to get it done, get it done right and get it done quickly," here are some key ideas to keep in mind:

  1. ISO 14001 is NOT ISO 9001 (or QS 9001). Most people say those programs were "bureaucratic," required too much paperwork and had little or no bottom-line value. By contrast, ISO 14001 is more streamlined. There are much lower requirements for documentation, fewer documented procedures required--but the catch is, what you do must be done properly.

  2. There are two challenges with ISO 14001. One is figuring out how your business impacts the environment, and the other is reducing the effect you have on the environment.

  3. Lots of people run into a problem with implementing ISO 14001. Many people just don't know where to start. That's where a professional can help you get moving and focus your company's efforts on the most efficient approaches to getting certified. You can do it yourself, but a professional can help you avoid the "blind alleys" that take up your time and don't move you any closer to certification.

  4. ISO 14001 can be integrated with your existing systems. It turns out that ISO 14001 can integrate with your existing ISO 9001 (or QS 9001) system very nicely. I'm a strong proponent of using your existing systems and filling in the gaps to meet the requirements of ISO 14001.

  5. There's additional value for you in implementing ISO 14001. The primary idea in ISO 14001 is reducing environmental impact, that is, waste of any sort. Most companies make the mistake of looking only at traditional environmental concerns, such as air emissions, water discharge and solid and hazardous waste. They miss a world of opportunity. Expand your visions to include energy consumption, water consumption and rejects and scrap. There isn't a manufacturer who isn't concerned with reducing electric or water consumption, rejects and scrap--the discipline of ISO 14001 accomplishes that for the majority of companies. And reduction of electric consumption or scrap and rejects puts money right where you want it--on your company's bottom line.

There are now about 1,200 certified ISO 14001 companies in the United States. Most of them did it because they wanted to. Most of the people who are just now beginning to work toward becoming ISO 14001 certified are...

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