5 Free ISO 14001 Checklist Templates for Environmental Management

Implementing an EMS, or any of the ISO 14000 standards used to be a confusing and intimidating process.

What’s more, in the past, companies that wanted to conform to and implement standards for environmental and quality management systems would be faced with the task of building out huge, complex manuals, with lengthy processes for changing how each task and procedure in the business was approached.

The result of this kind of EMS implementation would often be a huge, labyrinthine system of paper forms; slow to implement, difficult to navigate, and a nightmare update in tandem with real, changing business needs.

However, things changed with the recent ISO 2015 updates.

Now, it’s possible to take an Agile ISO approach. That means more flexibility, and the ability to use BPM software to save you time, money, and headaches.

In this article, I’ll present you with five custom made templates custom-built to help you with implementing an environmental management system in line with ISO 14001.

Here are the templates, if you just want to dive right in:

Before showcasing each of the templates, it’s worth touching on some important concepts relating to the ISO 14000 family, and sustainable development in general.

Quick introduction to ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is the most popular of the 14000 family, and sets out the requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS).

In this way, it is in parallel to the ISO 9001 standard for defining the requirements of a quality management system (QMS); the difference is ISO 14001 focuses on principles of environmental management and sustainable development, instead of quality management.

What is environmental management?

Simply put, environmental management refers to the principle of environmentally aware action an organization chooses to take to minimize negative environmental impact and in favor of an initiative of sustainable development.

[Environmental management is] “part of the management system used to manage environmental aspects, fulfill compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities.” – International Organization of Standardization (ISO)

ISO 14001 for environmental management, as with any of the recent ISO management systems, can be broken down into ten distinct clauses, as per Annex SL:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3. Terms and definitions
  4. Context of the organization
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance evaluation
  10. Improvement

This is the same structure that ISO 9000 family quality management systems now follow, as well as other management system standards recently defined by ISO.

These clauses are further categorized by the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, which is a methodology of continuous improvement.

An environmental management system, or EMS, can offer the following benefits:

  • Fewer environmental incidents
  • Improved reputation
  • Advantage to marketing and public image
  • Often a fundamental requirement for government tenders
  • Improved regulatory performance
  • Lower risk of non-compliance fines
  • Employee motivation
  • Waste reduction (both raw materials and cost)
  • Attracts more stakeholders (customers, investors, shareholders)
  • Increased profits from lower costs

That said, let’s take a look at some templates you can use to help you implement an environmental management system in your business.

They’re all ready to use out-of-the-box, but if you need to change anything to suit your own needs, then editing the templates is quick and easy, too.

ISO 14001 EMS Structure Template

This template was custom built to help you design and implement standard operating procedures for an environmental management system based on the ISO 14001 standard.

You will be guided with precise instructions for building out each section of ISO 14001, and at the end you’ll have the option to export the finished report as a PDF or word document.

Click here to get the ISO 14001 EMS Structure Template.

ISO 14001 EMS Mini-Manual Procedures

Here we have a fully filled-out example of the Structure Template above, using a fictional manufacturing company.

By looking at this template, you’ll be able to better understand how to approach building your own environmental management system, based on ISO 14001.

Click here to get the ISO 14001 EMS Mini-Manual Procedures template.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management Self-Audit Checklist

ISO 14001 certification involves:

  • Implementing an environmental management system based on the ISO 14001 requirements
  • Hiring a certified body or lead auditor to audit and approve your EMS based on the ISO 14001 standards

However, performing informal self-audits can help you prepare for the real thing. In fact, a good process for an internal self-assessment is a key step in preparation for becoming ISO 14001 certified.

Similar in scope to the ISO 9004 Self-Audit Checklist for Quality Management Systems, this checklist is designed for companies wanting to perform a self-audits to ensure compliance with ISO 14001 standards for their EMS.

If you have performed an ISO 9000 family internal audit for your quality management system, you will be able to transfer a lot of what you learned from that experience into the EMS self-audit.

In any case, this checklist will help guide you through the process.

Click here to get the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Self-Audit Checklist.

ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015 EMS Transition Checklist

Companies wanting to update their ISO 14001 environmental management systems to the new 2015 standards will do well to run through this checklist.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of overlap between 2004 and 2015 revisions; the bulk of the changes come from the way in which these kinds of management systems are structured.

With the new 2015 updates, the structure of management systems themselves has been standardized, meaning it’s possible to use software like Process Street to actually implement them, as long as they hit all of the requirements.

Click here to get the ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015 EMS Transition Checklist.

ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Integrated Management System (IMS) Checklist

Already running a quality management system, and want to implement an EMS? Or perhaps it’s the other way around, and you’re looking to integrate the principles of a QMS alongside an existing environmental management system.

Either way, this checklist will help you get the job done, and you’ll have an integrated management system up and running in no time.

As I mentioned above, the 2015 updates make integrating various kinds of management systems far more simple and streamlined, because they now all share a similar structure of 10 base clauses, each clause falling into one of the four stages of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

Click here to get the ISO 14001 EMS / ISO 9001 QMS Integration Checklist.

ISO has never been easier

As I mentioned earlier, since the 2015 ISO updates, it’s never been easier to implement ISO standards in your business.

Now, you can utilize software to streamline standard operating procedures and build out quality and environmental management systems in support of various ISO standards.

The most recently updated ISO standards, for example, allow organizations to decide for themselves how extensively they need to document their efforts towards achieving certain business goals.

“This enables each individual organization to determine the correct amount of documented information needed to demonstrate the effective planning, operation and control of its processes and the implementation and continual improvement of the effectiveness of its QMS.” – From the ISO/TC 176

This also means organizations can focus on making sure that the implementation of these standards, stays in line with their existing business goals, rather than obstructing or diverting them.

For example, under Agile ISO, using ISO 14001 for setting up an environmental management system would be more of a set of integrated practices in service to specific business goals, as opposed to a huge, disconnected pile of paper forms.

Using Process Street for ISO 14001

Since the 2015 ISO updates, it’s never been easier to implement ISO. We’ve covered the concept of Agile ISO in other posts; by taking this approach, you’ll save yourself a great deal of work by streamlining the whole process with a BPM software tool to keep your SOPs clearly organized and documented.

Process Street is a great solution for managing your standard operating procedures and building out an environmental management system to the requirements of ISO 14001.

At Process Street, it’s our mission to make recurring tasks fun, fast, and faultless for teams everywhere.

Check out this video for a quick rundown on how to get started with Process Street:

More ISO resources

If you’re trying to implement ISO standards in your business, we have a bunch of content to make your life easier.

Check out some of these articles we’ve written on ISO and standard operating procedures:

We also have a range of free, ready-made ISO templates to give you a running start. Just create your free Process Street account and take your pick:

Is there a particular ISO template you’re looking for? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

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Oliver Peterson

Oliver Peterson is a content writer for Process Street with an interest in systems and processes, attempting to use them as tools for taking apart problems and gaining insight into building robust, lasting solutions.


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