Environmental & Safety Issues: Integrating Management Systems
As of December 2004, there were 43,919 ISO 9001 and 5,669 ISO 14001 certified companies in the United States (QSU Publishing Company). While these numbers show the larger proportion of ISO 9001 companies compared with ISO 14001 companies, they do not reveal the fact that ISO 14001 implementation is becoming ever more popular, making it essential for companies to implement this system. Many U.S. and international companies are beginning to realize the value of this environmental management system and many more are motivated by their customers to implement it as a prerequisite for doing business.
When these companies initiate strategic planning for ISO 14001 implementation, many discover the advantages afforded to them by their existing quality management system - ISO 9001. If your company is already ISO 9001 certified, you have a head start in developing an ISO 14001 environmental management system. It can be advantageous for companies to integrate these two management systems due to their obvious similarities. However, there are some differences, starting with the overall goals of each program.
The overall goal of a 9001 system is to meet and exceed customer expectations. Therefore, it is ultimately a system defined by the customer. On the other hand, a 14001 system is designed to minimize harmful effects to the environment and improve environmental performance. ISO 14001 considers not only customer expectations, but is also shaped by regulatory agencies, industry-specific standards and the community at large.
Certain core elements make up the framework of any effective management system, including Policy, Document Control, Training, Internal Auditing, Corrective Action Process and Management Review. Companies that have an effective ISO 9001 program already have these particular elements in place. Therefore, instead of creating entirely new, separate elements to accommodate 14001 directives, many of the existing 9001 elements can simply be expounded upon.
For example, both standards require procedures to ensure document control, so the same procedures can be utilized to satisfy each standard. Similarly, both standards require procedures to address nonconformance and to request corrective actions. While the appropriate action for an environmental nonconformance will be different in nature than a quality nonconformance, the procedures can be identical to cover both. Each standard also requires the identification of training needs and a process to ensure qualifications for different tasks. So even though environmental awareness training (ISO 14001) is not included in a quality management system (ISO 9001), there is a similarity in the way the training can be managed.
In addition, indirect similarities exist. For example, ISO 14001 requires procedures to analyze the significance of environmental aspects and impacts. While aspects and impacts are not defined in the ISO 9001 standard, many procedures in the quality management system can be relevant when identifying the environmental aspects and impacts of a company's processes.
Furthermore, similar processes can be used separately to achieve both quality and environmental goals. For instance, the same Management Review process can be administered to the quality and environmental systems separately. This will ensure proper focus and detail is given to each system.
The extent of integrating a 14001 management system with a 9001 management system is dependent on the company. A smaller company may find it advantageous to combine several elements of each system due to their specific personnel, training and management resources. However, a more complex company may decide to entirely separate its quality and environmental programs.
When planning implementation of an ISO 14001 environmental management system, the following steps should be taken. First, decide which existing quality programs may be utilized to develop an effective environmental management system. Second, perform a gap analysis to analyze what new programs and elements need to be created. Finally, develop the targets, objectives and other necessary programs.
Whether your business decides to integrate several core elements of its quality system with its environmental system or develop a stand-alone environmental system, the programs and processes of an existing 9000 quality system will undoubtedly help pave the road to implementation. Although the specific goals of a quality and environmental management system are different, the management system framework can be integrated in common areas to achieve the overall business goal.