Home » ISO 14001:2004 EMS » ISO 14001-Clause 4.1

ISO 14001-Clause 4.1

ISO 14001-Clause 4.1 General requirements

ISO 14001 Requirements

The organization shall establish, document, implement, maintain and continually improve an environmental management system in accordance  with the requirements of this International Standard and determine how it will fulfil these requirements.

The organization shall define and document the scope of its environmental management system.


ISO 14001-Clause 4.1 states that the organization shall establish, document, implement, maintain and continually improve an EMS, the requirements of which are described in the whole of clause 4, which encompasses all the requirements of the Standard.The words  used in the Standard are ‘establish’ and ‘maintain’. There is no guidance as to the level or depth of establishment or what evidence is required to show maintenance. However, it can be taken to mean that there must be some objective evidence of the system being in place and reviewed and  revised.  Such review processes can take the form of monthly progress meetings, corrective actions from audits and of course audits themselves.  Audits are evidence of reviewing; that is, asking the question: ‘Are the planned activities of the organization occurring in practice?’  It would be very prudent for an implementing organization to offer evidence of one or two audits of a significant impact over a period of 2 to 3 months. Keeping documentary evidence of management reviews,even if not the fully formalized ‘Management Review’ that clause 4.6 of the Standard refers to and having some evidence of awareness training for those staff who control those environmental aspects that have a  highly significant environmental impact, would also be wise steps to take. Annex A.1 within the ISO 14001 specification, which is applicable to this clause of the Standard describes, at length, the intended purpose of the EMS. An improvement in the environmental management system is intended to show an improvement in environmental performance. The organization is expected to periodically review and evaluate its environmental management system to identify opportunities for improvement and their implementation. The rate, extent and timescale of this continual improvement process is to be  determined by the organization in the light of economic and other circumstances. An organization  is required to

  1. establish an appropriate environmental policy,
  2. identify the environmental aspects arising from the organization’s past, existing or planned activities,  products and services, in order to determine the environmental impacts of significance,
  3. identify applicable legal requirements and other requirements to which the organization subscribes,
  4. identify priorities and set appropriate environmental objectives and targets,
  5. establish a structure and a programmed to implement the policy and achieve objectives and meet targets,
  6. facilitate planning, control, monitoring, preventive and corrective actions, auditing and review activities to ensure both that the policy is complied with and that the environmental management system remains appropriate, and
  7. be capable of adapting to changing circumstances.

An organization with no existing Environmental Management system should conduct Preparatory Environmental Review to establish its current position with regard to the environment. Please visit my post on Preparatory  Environmental Review to conduct a Preparatory Environmental Review. The aim of this review is to consider all environmental aspects of the organization as a basis for establishing the environmental management system. The review should cover four key areas:

  • identification of environmental aspects, including those associated with normal operating conditions, abnormal conditions including start-up and shut-down, and emergency situations and accidents;
  • identification of applicable. legal requirements and other requirements to which the organization subscribes;
  • examination of existing environmental management practices and procedures, including those associated with procurement and contracting activities;
  • evaluation of previous emergency situations and accidents.

The organization should define and document the scope of its environmental management system.Once the scope is defined, all activities, products and services of the organization within that scope is to be included in the environmental management system.If a part of an organization is excluded from the scope of its environmental management system, the organization should explain the exclusion.

Audit Checklist:

  1. What is the scope of environmental management system and what scope is being assessed for certification?
  2. Does it include those environmental aspects which you can control or over which you could be expected to have an influence?
  3. Is the scope of the environmental management system defined and documented within the organisation’s environmental management system (EMS) documentation?
  4. Are there activities that are excluded from the scope of the environmental management system and are the reasons for exclusion acceptable?

Mandatory Procedure:

Not applicable

Mandatory Records:

Not applicable

Evidence/Implementation document ( Not mandatory but helps in fulfillment of requirement):

pdf Example of Environmental manual
pdf Example of Integrated Environmental,Health and Safety manual

Note there is no explicate requirement of Environmental manual for ISO 14001. But having a Environmental manual will give confidence to the auditor that the organization has established and documented the EMS. Since the requirements of ISO 14001-Clause 4.1 encompasses all the requirements of Environmental Management System, all the documentation requirements of the System is also applicable to this clause such as:

  • An environmental policy supported by senior management;
  • The identification of environmental aspects and impacts, and the identification of significant environmental impacts that the organisation may cause;
  • Identification of environmental compliance requirements;
  • The development of objectives and targets, and their environmental management programs;
  • Defined resources, roles, responsibilities and authorities for environmental management;
  • The development of competence, training and awareness procedures;
  • A communication process of the EMS to all stakeholders and interested parties;
  • The development of EMS documentation as required by the standard;
  • The development of document control procedures;
  • The development of operational control procedures;
  • The development of emergency preparedness and response procedures;
  • The development of procedures to monitor and measure operations that can have significant impact to the environment;
  • An evaluation of compliance procedure;
  • Procedures developed for the management of non-conformance, corrective and preventative actions;
  • The development of a records management procedure;
  • A program for completing internal EMS audits and corrective actions;
  • The development of procedures for management review by senior management.

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Pretesh Biswas