Hidden context

Hidden context

The transition to ISO 14001:2015 is now progressing at a pace, and patterns of conformity – and nonconformity – are beginning to emerge. One of the most obvious so far is how clause 4.1 ‘Understanding the organization and its context’ appears to be wearing an invisibility cloak. It’s a small paragraph, only 3 lines long; it looks like pre-amble, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the key benefits of the new standard and provides a foundation stone to the whole environmental management system.

This clause is about understanding what issues might impact on the organization’s ability to improve its environmental performance. Once the issues have been identified, the risks and opportunities associated with them can also be identified, and used to set objectives and operational controls.

Issues can be internal as well as external, and section A.4.1 in the annex gives some useful examples.

One tool to use to identify relevant issues is PESTLE:

  • Political issues
  • Economic issues
  • Social issues
  • Technological issues
  • Legal issues
  • Environmental issues

Another is consideration of ‘megatrends’. Check out PWC’s list of megatrends for starters.

Remember to link these issues back to environmental management. For example, an ageing population (social issue & megatrend) might mean that you need to change the structure of your buildings to improve accessibility. The process of project design and management will need to be managed to consider environmental impacts.

Quest can support you through the transition to ISO 14001:2015, including identification of relevant issues, risks and opportunities. Call Julia today on 07904 389889 to discuss your requirements.

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