3 Common ISO 14001 Nonconformances and How to Avoid Them

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January 09, 2013

A company’s Environmental Management System (EMS) works interdependently. If one area is broken, it may affect all of them. Often, if a company doesn’t fix the problem and the underlying causes immediately, it becomes more costly to correct.

Similarly, when a company certifies to the ISO 14001 standard, a nonconformance identifies an issue that may indicate significant impairment to the effectiveness of the overall EMS. Consequences include delayed certification or mandatory corrective action in an established timeframe.tiveness of the overall EMS. Consequences include delayed certification or mandatory corrective action in an established timeframe.

Here are 3 common ISO 14001 nonconformances and how to avoid them:

1. Lack of documentation of requirements. An EMS has a compliance component and companies must follow specific due dates and keep track of them using system tools. For example, if environmental monitoring results are not submitted to the governing regulatory agency a nonconformance will be identified.

2. Failure to document and communicate updates and/or process improvements. Companies are required to identify what’s changed in their operations, including new people, equipment, etc. These changes should go through a review process and be documented and communicated clearly to all affected staff.

3. Inaccurate calibration of equipment. At a minimum, equipment used to monitor activities and services should be calibrated and maintained as recommended by the manufacturer. Calibration records are required to be made available to auditors. If proper calibration isn’t performed, time-consuming actions often result, including additional assessments, retesting, notification and further documentation.

Most importantly, when a nonconformance is identified, a company should immediately:

  •  Notify the employees responsible for addressing it.
  • Research the cause.
  • Establish corrective action steps.
  • Change the existing process as needed.
  • Communicate the change to employees.
  • Follow up and monitor to make sure the solution is effective long-term.

Related Tags:ISO 14001