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Home » ISO 14001:2004 EMS » ISO 14001 Terms and Definitions

ISO 14001 Terms and Definitions

ISO 14001 Terms and Definitions

Clause 3.0 Terms and Definitions

In this We shall try to define and understand some of the terms used in Environmental management system. The standard ISO 14001:2004 is the basis on which the terms are defined.

1 Auditor

ISO 14001 definition:
“person with the competence to conduct an audit.”
Explanation:

An auditor is a person who is trained and tasked to  carry out audits. Auditors collect evidence in order to evaluate how well audit criteria are being met. They must be objective, impartial, independent, and competent. ISO 19011 distinguishes between internal and external auditors. Internal auditors perform first party audits while external auditors perform second and third party audits.

2 Continual improvement

ISO 14001 definition:

“recurring process of enhancing the environmental management system  in order to achieve improvements in overall environmental performance  consistent with the organization’s environmental policy.”

NOTE: The process need not take place in all areas of activity simultaneously.
Explanation:

The term Continual improvement refers to an ongoing process of performance enhancement.  In the context of this environmental standard, it means that you need to enhance your organization’s overall environmental performance by enhancing  its environmental management system and by improving its ability to manage the environmental aspects of its activities, products, and services. Continual improvements can be achieved by carrying  out internal audits, performing management reviews, analyzing data, and implementing corrective and preventive actions.

3 Corrective  action

ISO 14001 definition:
“action to eliminate the cause of a detected nonconformity.”
Explanation:

Corrective actions are steps that are taken to remove the causes of an existing nonconformity.Corrective actions address actual problems. In general, the corrective action process can be thought of as a problem solving process.

4 Document

ISO 14001 definition:
“information and its supporting medium.”

NOTE: The medium can be paper, magnetic, electronic or optical computer disc, photograph or master sample, or a combination  thereof.

Explanation:

When information is placed on a medium it becomes a document. In this context, the term medium usually refers to paper. But it can also refer to electronic, magnetic, or optical disks. A set of documents is often referred to as documentation.

5 Environment

ISO 14001 definition:

“surroundings in which an organization operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interrelation.”

NOTE: Surroundings in this context extend from within an organization  to the global system.

Explanation:

The term environment refers to an organization’s natural and human surroundings. An organization’s environment extends from within the organization itself to the global system, and includes air, water, land, flora, fauna,as well as human beings.

6  Environmental aspect

ISO 14001 definition:

“element of an organization’s  activities or products or services that can interact with the environment”

NOTE: A significant environmental aspect has or can have a significant environmental impact.

Explanation:

If an activity, product, or service interacts with the environment, it has an environmental aspect.But what exactly is an environmental aspect? An environmental aspect is a feature or characteristic of an activity, product, or service that affects or can affect the environment. In order to identify your environmental aspects you need to study how your organization’s activities, products, and services affect the environment. For each type of activity, product, or service you need to list your unique environmental aspects. However, you don’t have to worry about every environmental aspect. You only have to work on the most significant environmental aspects–those that have or could have a significant environmental impact. Furthermore, you do not have to work on all significant aspects, only those that you can actually influence or control.

7  Environmental impact

ISO 14001 definition:

“any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an  organization’s environmental aspects.”

Explanation:

An environmental impact is a change to the environment.Such change can be positive or negative. Environmental impacts are caused by environmental aspects. Your environmental aspects can have a direct and decisive impact on the environment or contribute only partially or indirectly to a larger environmental change.

8  Environmental  Management  System(EMS)

ISO 14001 definition:

“part of an organization’s  management system used to develop and implement its environmental policy  and manage its environmental aspects.”

NOTE 1:  A management system is a set of interrelated elements used to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives.

NOTE 2:  A management system includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, Practices, procedures, processes and resources.

Explanation:

An organization’s environmental management system (EMS) is one part of a larger management system. The EMS part of this larger management system is used to establish an environmental policy and to manage the environmental aspects of an organization’s activities, products, and services. A management system is a network of interrelated elements. Elements include responsibilities, authorities, relationships, functions, processes, procedures, practices, and resources. A management system uses these elements to establish policies and objectives and to develop ways of applying these policies and achieving these objectives.

9 Environmental Objective

ISO 14001 definition:

“overall environmental goal, consistent with the environmental policy, that an organization sets itself to achieve.”

Explanation:

An environmental objective is a specific environmental goal. Your organization’s environmental objectives must be consistent with its environmental policy.

10 Environmental Performance

ISO 14001 definition:
“measurable results of an organization’s management of its environmental aspects”

NOTE In the context of environmental management systems, results can be measured against the organization’s environmental policy, environmental objectives, environmental targets and other environmental performance requirements

Explanation:

Environmental performance is all about how well an organization manages the environmental aspects of its activities, products, and services and the impact they have on the environment. The organization’s environmental performance can be improved by reducing its negative environmental impact or increasing its positive environmental impact.In order to be able to determine how well environmental aspects are being managed, environmental performance should be measurable. You can measure your overall environmental performance by comparing your environmental management achievements against your environmental policy, objectives, targets, or any other suitable environmental performance requirements.

11 Environmental policy

ISO 14001 definition:

“overall intentions and direction of an organization  related to its environmental performance as formally expressed by top management”

NOTE The environmental policy provides a framework for action and for the setting of environmental objectives  and environmental targets.

Explanation:

An environmental policy statement expresses a commitment to the implementation and maintenance of an organization’s environmental management system and the improvement of its overall environmental performance. An environmental policy should also emphasize the need to prevent pollution and to comply with all relevant legal and other requirements. In general, an environmental policy should be used to generate environmental objectives and targets, and should act as a general framework for action.

12  Environmental target

ISO 14001 definition:

“detailed performance requirement, applicable to the organization or parts thereof, that arises from the environmental objectives and that needs to be set and met in.”

Explanation:

An environmental target is a detailed performance requirement. Environmental targets are derived from environmental objectives and are used to achieve these objectives. Targets can apply to specific areas or to the organization as a whole.

13 Interested party

ISO 14001 definition:
“person or group concerned with or affected by the environmental.”
Explanation:

An interested party is a person or group that has a stake in the environmental performance of an organization. Interested parties may be directly affected by the organization or actively concerned with its environmental performance.

14  Internal audit

ISO 14001 definition:

“order to achieve those objectives performance of an organization systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the environmental management system audit criteria set by the organization are fulfilled.”

NOTE: In many cases, particularly in smaller organizations, independence can be demonstrated by the freedom from responsibility for the activity being audited.

Explanation:

In the context of this standard, an internal audit is a systematic evidence gathering process that is carried out in order to evaluate how well an environmental management system meets a set of audit criteria established by your organization. Internal audits must be independent, objective, and impartial. Your internal audits should determine whether your environmental management system complies with the ISO 14001 standard and other planned arrangements. Section 4.5.5 expects you to determine whether your environmental management system is properly implemented and maintained.

15 Nonconformity

ISO 14001 definition:
“non-fulfillment of a requirement.”
Explanation:

Nonconformity is the “non-fulfillment of a requirement”.Nonconformity refers to a failure to comply with requirements.A nonconformity  is a deviation from a specification, a standard, or an expectation.  A requirement is a need, expectation, or obligation. It can be stated or implied by an organization, its customers, or other  interested parties.  There are many types of requirements. Some of these include quality requirements, customer requirements, management requirements, product requirements, and legal requirements. Whenever your organization fails to meet one of these requirements, a nonconformity occurs. When your organization deviates from these requirements, a nonconformity occurs.  Nonconformities are classified as either critical, major, or minor.

  • Minor nonconformity – Any nonconformity which does not adversely affect the performance, durability, interchangeability, reliability, maintainability, effective use or operation, weight or appearance (where a factor), health or safety of a product. Multiple minor nonconformities when considered collectively may raise the category to a major or critical nonconformity.

  • Major nonconformity – Any nonconformity other than critical, which may result in failure or materially reduce the usability of the product for the intended purpose (i.e. effective use or operation, weight or appearance (where a factor), health or safety) and which can not be completely eliminated by rework or reduced to a minor nonconformity by an approved repair.

  • Critical nonconformity – Any nonconformity which may result in hazardous or unsafe conditions for individuals using, maintaining or depending upon the product or prevent performance of a vital products.

16 Organization

ISO 14001 definition:

“company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether  incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration.”

NOTE For organizations with more than one operating unit, a single operating unit may be defined as an organization.

Explanation:

An organization is an entity, such as an institution or an association, that has a collective goal and is linked to an external environment.A social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals. All organizations have a management structure that determines relationships between the different activities and the members, and subdivides and assigns roles, responsibilities, and authority to carry out different tasks. Organizations are open systems–they affect and are affected by their environment.

17 Preventive action

ISO 14001 definition:
“action to eliminate the cause of a potential nonconformity”
Explanation:

Preventive actions are steps that are taken to remove the causes of potential nonconformities—ones that haven’t yet occurred. In general, the preventive action process can be thought of as a risk analysis process.

18 Prevention of pollution

ISO 14001 definition:

“use of processes, practices, techniques, materials, products, services or energy to avoid, reduce or control (separately or in combination) the creation, emission or discharge of any type of pollutant or waste, in order to reduce adverse environmental impacts”

NOTE: Prevention of pollution can include source reduction or elimination, process, product or service changes, efficient use of resources, material and energy substitution, reuse, recovery, recycling, reclamation and treatment.

Explanation:

To prevent pollution means to avoid, reduce, or control the creation, emission, or discharge of contaminants or waste materials. Pollution must be prevented in order to reduce adverse environmental impacts.Organizations use a wide variety of methods, techniques, practices, processes, products, and services to prevent pollution. These include the reduction or elimination of pollution at the source; the efficient use of resources, materials, and energy; the reuse, recovery, reclamation,and recycling of resources; the redesign of processes, products, and services; and the substitution of one type of energy source or substance for another cleaner energy source or substance.

19 Procedure

ISO 14001 definition:
“specified way to carry out an activity or a process.”
NOTE: Procedures can be documented or not.
Explanation:

A procedure is a way of carrying out a process or an activity. You need not document your procedures unless ISO 14001:2004 explicitly says you must do so. A documented procedure describes and controls a logically distinct process or activity, including the associated inputs and outputs. Documented procedures can be very general or very detailed,or anywhere in between. While a general procedure could take the form of a simple flow diagram, a detailed procedure could be a one page form or it could be several pages of text.A detailed documented procedure defines and controls the work that should be done, and explains how it should be done, who should do it, and under what circumstances. In addition, it often explains what authority and what responsibility has been allocated,which supplies and materials should be used, and which documents and records must be used to carry out the work.

20 Record

ISO 14001 definition:

“document stating results achieved or providing evidence of activities performed.”

Explanation:

A record is a document that contains objective evidence which shows how well activities are being performed or what kind of results are being achieved. It always documents what has happened in the past.

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