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ISO 14001:2015 - Clause 9.1: Monitoring and Measurement

29 March 2018
This month we look at the clause relating to monitoring, measurement and evaluation. All of the newly revised standards have an expected outcome. In the case of ISO 14001:2015 it is the improvement of environmental performance.

Previous versions of the standard have had a requirement to monitor those areas where there is or could be significant environmental impacts.

The revised standard however requires that this environmental performance and subsequent improvement is measured and monitored. You will need to consider what should be measured, the methods employed and when data should be analysed and reported on. As a general recommendation, organizations should determine what information they need to evaluate environmental performance and effectiveness.

Once the EMS is implemented, ISO 14001 requires permanent monitoring of the system as well as periodic reviews to:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented EMS

  • objectively evaluate how well the minimal requirements of the standard are fulfilled

  • verify the extent to which the organizational, stakeholder, and legal requirements have been met;

  • review the suitability, adequacy, effectiveness and efficiency of the EMS;

  • demonstrate that planning has been successfully implemented;

  • assess the performance of processes;

  • determine the need or opportunities for improvements within the environmental management system. 

In the Dark?

Running an EMS without effective monitoring and measurement processes is like driving at night without the headlights on - you know that you are moving but you can’t tell where you are going!

Monitoring in the sense of ISO 14001 means that you should should check, review, inspect and observe your planned activities to ensure that they are happening as intended. So if an operational control states that housekeeping audits will occur twice weekly then this is considered a monitoring process, i.e. the site is checked weekly for ‘good housekeeping practices’. This could also involve ‘visual’ checking of the integrity of bunding around solvent storage tanks for example.

Monitoring and measurement help you:

  • evaluate environmental performance;

  • analyze root causes of problems;

  • assess compliance with legal requirements;

  • identify areas requiring corrective action, and,

  • improve performance and increase efficiency.

If you want to have a successful EMS, it is important to determine programme measurement criteria. Determining measurement criteria, also known as performance indicators, will help you evaluate the success of your overall EMS program.

ISO 14001:2015 does not explicitly require that you use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Clause 9.1.1 does however require you as an organization to determine which criteria you will evaluate your environmental performance against and the appropriate indicators for this performance, so you do need to monitor some environmental indicators, but the term key performance indicators is not used.

However, if you are in an industry that already uses the term key performance indicators within your Quality Management System or elsewhere, then it might make it easier for you to explain what you are talking about when it comes to monitoring and controlling the processes you have with significant environmental aspects – and anything that makes it easier for people to understand is good.

What should I document?

While you do not need documents for every process and procedure you have, it is important to make sure that any monitoring and measurement requirements are documented, including the information needed to perform the measurement such as the expected values and the equipment to use. In this way, you can make sure that these important measurements are carried out consistently between employees, ensuring that your significant environmental aspects do not become environmental incidents.

As always, records of the calibration or verification are needed to demonstrate that you have done this important activity, and they can be invaluable tools for investigation should a problem happen. It is good to remind ourselves that you do not need to monitor and measure everything, only those things that are significant.

So to summarise - although monitoring and measurement was a requirement of the 2004 version of the standard, the 2015 version is more prescriptive about defining the methods to use, establishing performance criteria, and analysis of results. You must ensure that your measuring mechanisms are trusted, proven, and regular and that you have a plan to review their effectiveness regularly. Your EMS performance and the environment will both see the benefit.