The purpose of the Guide is to provide a clear understanding of the requirements of ISO 14001, so that organizations can design, implement, and audit environmental management systems on a consistent basis. The Guide is primarily intended for the use of experienced registrars and auditors engaged in EMS audits for the purposes of registration, self-declaration, or internal assessment. This Guide attempts to increase audit consistency between the different registrars and auditors, thus providing greater reliance on the audit results. This will lead to increased integrity and confidence in the implementation of ISO 14001 and the environmental benefits that will flow from it.
This Guide is designed neither to add to nor subtract from the requirements of ISO 14001, and its intent is to clarify the intended meaning of the Standard. An effort has been made to avoid duplication of Annex A, Guidance on the use of the specification, of ISO 14001, which was added to the Standard with the express intent of providing guidance for its use. To help achieve this, in this Guide, the relevant sections of the ISO 14001 Annex A are shown below the corresponding requirements section of the ISO 14001 requirements (Clause 4). Although the Guide was designed primarily to address the interpretive needs of a registrar or auditor, the guidance provided may furnish an organization implementing an EMS with a better understanding of the requirements of ISO 14001 and of how an auditor is likely to approach an EMS audit. Wherever possible, an effort has been made to avoid lists of examples, which may be perceived as limiting. Instead, the focus has been maintained on developing clear and concise interpretation that helps maintain the flexibility originally built into ISO 14001.
This document should be used in conjunction with the environmental auditing documents (ISO 14001-96, ISO 14004-96, ISO 14010-96, ISO 14011-96, and ISO 14012-96).
This Guide is not intended to constitute a complete audit protocol or scoring tool for an EMS system, nor does it provide information on generic auditing techniques or serve to estimate the level of effort required in the registration process. The degree of sampling required in various verification processes, for example, is not included in this Guide.
It is acknowledged that some organizations will wish to audit integrated management systems that address environment, health, and safety. In these situations, this Guide is limited to providing clarification only of the environmental aspects of an integrated system designed to comply with ISO 14001.