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ISO14001 and Understanding the Needs & Expectations of Interested Parties

Many organisations that decide to achieve ISO14001 for Environmental Management systems already have ISO9001:2015, which is great because the two systems are very closely aligned and follow the same Higher Level Structure, which creates a harmonised approach to your management systems.

What this means then is that Clause 4 of ISO 14001 is going to sound very familiar, and it should, it's pretty much the same clause but with a few, very minor tweaks in wording and the odd reference plus of course a focus on environmental impacts. That means you can leverage the work that you have already done in your ISO9001:2015 system for use in your ISO14001:2015 Environmental Management System, but just look at it through the new lens of Environmental Management and Impacts. It also means that you are able to create 1 single integrated manual for your 9001 & 14001 systems since they both follow the same structure.

Clause 4 of the ISO14001:2015 standard is broken into 4 sections in a bid to make it clearer for the user, which are:

  • 4.1 Understanding the Organisation & its Context
  • 4.2 Understanding the needs & expectations of interested parties
  • 4.3 Determining the scope of the Environmental Management System
  • 4.4 Environmental Management System & it's processes

Now, here is the useful hint of the day, a lot of people would just start at 4.1 and move through the list, don't! It's actually easier to shuffle it a bit and work through them in the order 4.2, 4.1, 4.4 and finally 4.3 let me explain how they fit, and you'll understand why. Since the clauses are quite large in terms of what you should do to cover them, we'll split this to separate sections, here we will cover 4.2 next we'll cover 4.1 then 4.4 & 4.3.

Let's set some expectations

First off, a bit of expectation setting, you do really want to try and think about causes 4.2 and 4.1 back to back while your management system implementation juices are flowing. We recommend that to get through sections 4.2 & 4.1 you will need at least a full day to a day and a half with your senior leadership team and, ideally, operational leaders involved in the system. Do it somewhere you can't be interrupted or dragged into the daily turmoil of the organisation, so an offsite location is good if you can do it & make everyone switch their cell phones to silent then put them on a table very far away from you to avoid distractions… 1st person to touch the phone during the sessions has to buy the dinner!  

ISO14001 Clause 4.2 Interested Parties

Interested parties are, as the name suggests, anyone who basically has interest in your company, product or service and their impact or the impact of your organisation, and increasingly your supply chain on the environment, i.e. the stakeholders. 

That means you should be thinking about quite a few groups, for example there are customers, obviously, but also don't forget your employees, suppliers, contractors, partners, government agencies, the public and the list goes on. Really encourage the group to rack their brains on this one, it'll surprise you when you see the list!

You need to consider if each of these names or groups actually has an impact or possibly could have an impact in the future on your Environmental Management System (and to an extent your business) or way of working and what that could be, do you need to do anything as a result? You should also consider the reverse of this, what impact do you as an organisation or your products have on each of these stakeholders.

Once you have that list, add next to each name or group what their needs are and then what their expectations of the company are.

I like to do this by creating a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet that's projected up where we can have it set up in columns as follows:

  • Organisation name
  • Relationship to the organisation (e.g. customer, employee, supplier, partner, influence and so on)
  • Impact now - Low, Medium & high type of impact,
  • Needs / Expectations
  • Actions Required to ensure needs are met
  • Ranking (from grid)

By plotting your interested parties onto a grid like the one shown here, you can create a good understanding of how much they impact your systems and how much time you need to put into managing them.  As a way of starting it's good to put up the groups as listed above on a wall and then add each of the interested parties into one of them by adding them there using a post-it note, then you can work through each group in order.  The result should be a table like that shown below, where you can outline each stakeholder and their interests and expectations on your organisation and products with respect to your ISO14001 Environmental management System.

Stakeholder Relationship Interest ImpactNeeds / Expectations Actions Required
Joe Bloggs Inc customer High HighEthically sourced raw materials
Environmentally well managed disposal of waste products with a focus on recycling where possible.
Communicate sourcing policy
Demonstrate recycling approach with KPI's on landfill, waste, recycling content on products
Local CouncilGovernment Body (Legal)HighHighMeet all NZ LegalComply with all legal & statutory requirements.
Work together to support waste minimisation.
Neighbourhood ResidentsInfluencersHighHighLow noise / Air Pollution
Environmentally source manufacturing approaches
Keep work sites clean
Regular updates & consultation with neighbours on any impact changes
Contribute to local neighbourhood events.

By taking the time to do these steps you should be able to not only clearly understand who is impacted by and who impacts on your Environmental Management System, and how, but also create plans on what you need to do to manage or avoid those impacts. Once you have this list you also need to track it, review it and update it. That can be tricky to do, and it's easy to forget with all the day-to-day work that you need to do. That's where a system like Mango can help. Mango can alert you when it's time to review your interested parties and can track when you do it and the updates you make. More over, you can keep track of all those EMS KPI's that you will need to set up to ensure you are doing what you have said you will do.

Of course, another by-product of this is the ability to demonstrate this to anyone who wants to audit or understand it.

Ready To Start Your ISO14001 Journey?

Make a booking now and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

Ready To Start Your ISO14001 Journey?

Make a booking now and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

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Make a booking now to see how simple it is to integrate your systems, reduce paperwork, save time and be compliant.
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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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