This is the third in a series of blogs, in which we will describe what is required by an organization so that it may meet the requirements of ISO 14001:2015. We will look at clause 4.3: Determining the scope of the Environmental Management System.
Clause 4.3: Determining the scope of the Environmental Management System
Clause 4.1 requires the organization to understand the internal and external issues that can impact in a positive or negative manner on its environmental performance including organizational culture and structure, and the external environment including cultural, social, political, legal, financial, technological, economic, market competition and natural factors of significance to its performance.
Clause 4.2 requires the organization to identify relevant interested parties, their needs and expectations.
Once the organization has determined and assessed its internal and external and external issues and identified the needs and expectations of relevant interested parties, it should define the physical and organizational boundaries and applicability of the Environmental Management System.
The scope of the Environmental Management System may be the whole organization or specific identified functions or sections of the organization. If the organization makes a statement that it conforms to ISO 14001, it must make the scope of the management system available to ensure it is clear to interested parties which parts of the organization are covered.
The scope of the management system should include everything under the organization’s control or influence that could impact on its environmental performance. The credibility of the organization’s Environmental management system will largely depend on the extent of the defined boundaries. Under no circumstances should the scope be used to exclude activities, products or services that have or could have the potential to impact the organization’s environmental performance or evade its compliance requirements.
An inappropriately narrow or exclusive scope could undermine the credibility of the organization’s environmental management system with its interested parties and reduce its ability to achieve the intended outcomes of the environmental management system.
The scope is a factual statement of the organization’s operations or business processes to be included within its environmental management system boundaries.
Once the scope is defined, the concept of ‘organization’ is limited to what the scope covers, e.g. if the scope of the environmental management system is limited to a particular function or section of the organization, the remainder of the organization is then considered to be an external provider or other interested party.
The organization should maintain the scope of the environmental management system as documented information and make it available to interested parties. The method of maintaining the scope is not prescribed by ISO 14001, therefore the organization will need to determine the most suitable method, e.g. using a written description, inclusion on a site map, an organizational diagram, a webpage, or posting a public statement of its conformity. When documenting its scope, the organization should consider using an approach that identifies the activities or processes involved, the products or services that ensue, and the location(s), where they occur.
Clause 4.3: Determining the scope of the Environmental Management System – Quick Check
- Has the scope of the environmental management system been determined?
- Did you consider context, compliance obligations and ability to control or influence when establishing the scope?
- Are all significant aspects included in the scope?
- Is the scope maintained as documented information?
- Is the scope available to interested parties?