Home » ISO 14001:2004 EMS » ISO 14001-Clause 4.4.3

ISO 14001-Clause 4.4.3

ISO 14001-Clause 4.4.3 Communication

ISO 14001 Requirements

With regard to its environmental aspects and environmental management system, the organization shall establish, implement and maintain a procedure(s) for

  • internal communication among the various levels and functions of the organization,
  • receiving, documenting and responding to relevant communication from external interested parties.

The organization shall decide whether to communicate externally about its significant environmental aspects, and shall document its decision. If the decision is to communicate, the organization shall establish and implement a method(s) for this external communication.


This sub-clause refers to all types of communications, both internal, and external to, the organization. It requires organizations to establish  and maintain procedures for internal communications between the various levels and functions of the organization. It also requires organizations  to document and respond to relevant communications from external interested parties.

Examples of internal communications include:

  • Communicating environmental objectives and targets to employees.
  • Raising awareness of environmental issues to employees.
  • Communicating the environmental policy to employees.
  • Advising of nonconformances to relevant departmental heads.
  • Reporting incidents arising from abnormal or emergency operation to senior management.

Examples of external communications include:

  • Dealing with environmental complaints or proactively inviting such stakeholders, or ‘green’ pressure groups to the site.
  • Responding to media enquiries, especially in the event of an incident.

An inability to communicate effectively within the first few hours of an incident could seriously reduce the company’s ability to control the situation. This will undermine the company’s reputation in the minds of staff, customers, the media and the public. Effective environmental management requires effective communications. Communications will help you:

  • motivate the workforce;
  • explain the environmental policy both internally and externally and how it relates to the overall business vision / strategy;
  • ensure understanding of roles and expectations;
  • demonstrate management commitment;
  • monitor performance; and,
  • identify potential system improvements.

Effective internal communications require mechanisms for information to flow top-down and bottom-up. Since employees are on the “front lines,” they are often an excellent source of information, issues and ideas. Communicating with external parties is also important for effective environmental management. Obtaining the views of neighbors, community groups, and customers,among others, will help you understand how your organization is perceived by others. Information from external sources can be critical in setting environmental and other business goals. An effective EMS should include procedures for:

  • communicating internally between levels and functions, and
  • soliciting, receiving, documenting and responding to external communications.

Determine how proactive your external communications strategy will be. Select an approach that fits your organization’s culture and strategy. For example, will reporting on environmental performance and progress give you an edge over the competition? While a proactive external communications program may require more resources, some organizations have found that a proactive strategy can be quite beneficial. Weigh the costs and benefits for yourself, but keep in mind that there might be many interested audiences. In communicating with employees, it is helpful to explain not only what they need to do but why they need to do it. For example, when describing a requirement based on a regulation, simply saying “the regulations require it” is not sufficient explanation. Try to explain the purpose behind the rule and why it is important. Also make a clear connection between the requirement and how it applies to each person’s job. Keep the message simple. All communications should be clear, concise, and accurate. Managing responses to external inquiries does not have to be a burdensome task. Use a simple method, such as stapling an inquiry to its written response and then filing them together. The key is to be able to demonstrate that the organization has a system for responding to external inquiries.

Audit Checklist:

  1. As relevant to its Environmental Aspects and Environmental Management System, has your organisation established, implemented and maintained procedure(s) for Internal communication between the various levels and functions of your organisation?
  2. As relevant to its Environmental Aspects and Environmental Management System, has your organisation established, implemented and maintained procedure(s) for Receiving, documenting and responding to relevant communication from external interested parties?
  3. Has the organisation decided whether to communicate externally about its significant environmental aspects?
  4. Has your decision in this regard been documented?
  5. If the decision has been made to communicate this information, has the organisation established and implemented the method(s) for this communication?

Mandatory Procedure:

pdf Example of Procedure for Communication, Participation AND Consultation
pdf Example of Procedure for Internal Communication and Communication with external parties

Mandatory Records:

Not applicable

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

pdf Picture of MPCB Display Board in Marathi language (local)
pdf Examples of Pictures of visual display
pdf Example of External Stakeholder Communication record

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