10 common examples of ISO 14001 non-conformance


Does your organisation consider and manage its environmental impact? Every day businesses are faced with increasing pressure from customers, regulators and governments to reduce their environmental impact. The ISO 14001 Standard offers your business an environmental management system framework to help meet compliance.

Equally, the Standard allows you to highlight non-conformities, and many businesses fall foul of what’s needed to meet the requirements of ISO 14001. 

Common examples of ISO 14001 non-conformities

  • Failure to document environmental procedures
  • Checking processes are delivering the desired results 
  • Environmental management reviews 
  • Recording environmental aspects and impacts
  • Defining objectives and targets 
  • Setting an environmental policy 
  • Effective management of customer complaints 
  • Implementing a compliance register
  • Training provisions and keeping a record
  • Recording correspondence

We’ve provided some information on each of these non-conformities, and what to do to avoid ISO 14001 non-conformance.

Document your environmental procedures

 An Environmental Manual or similar document is a requirement of ISO 14001. It states your company’s intentions towards environmental management and also describes what steps should be taken to achieve these goals successfully.

Check your processes are delivering the desired results

By conducting what we call an internal audit, you should look at a process and decide whether it’s achieving the desired results. Do you have environmental operational controls in place and are they maintained? Ultimately, you need to evaluate if your processes meet the planned conditions in respect of how they interact with the environment. If you don’t, then this ISO 14001 non-conformity will prove costly.

Perform environmental management reviews

You need to ensure your documented environmental procedures continue to be fit for purpose through regular management reviews. These reviews should be held at regular intervals and against an established agenda. You should have minutes taken so that the results can be distributed to relevant parties.

Record any environmental aspects and impacts

You should identify and record any Environmental Aspects and Impacts of activities within a Register or Environmental Programme. An Environmental Aspect is an element of the organisation’s activities, products or services that can interact with the environment. This will include identifying the priority and significance of each aspect.

Define environmental objectives & targets

You should conduct Environmental Risk Assessments to determine the impact of your organisation’s activities on the environment. Using the results of the Risk Assessment, a set of Environmental Objectives can then be defined, allowing progress to be monitored and, where practical, measured.

Set and communicate an Environmental Policy

An environmental policy is a statement, usually produced by top management, detailing your organisation’s environmental position and values. It should include the overall environmental performance intentions and direction. It is important that this Policy is communicated around the organisation.

Manage customer complaints about environmental issues

It is important to set a specific complaints process for the handling of environmental issues, to drive continual improvement. This is particularly valuable if your Organisation is in the manufacturing industry or your employees are working in conditions that have environmental implications i.e. chemicals, fuel, etc.

Implement a compliance register

Your organisation should have a Compliance Register or similar document that shows any relevant legislation that must be followed and the obligations that your Organisation has towards these. The Register should be regularly reviewed as part of Management Review process and be updated when required.

Provide training and keep a record of this

Alongside any training that your organisation already provides to employees, additional training on ISO 14001 should be provided in regard to environmental issues and your company’s procedure in regard to environmental management. As with all training efforts, records should be kept to act as proof that the training has been provided and what was covered.

Record correspondence

Sometimes external interested parties may contact your Company for details on your Environmental Management policies and having an established procedure for receiving, documenting and responding to this type of communication is very important. Details of any such communication should be kept on record and reviewed during an Environmental Management Review as this may highlight areas for improvement of the communication handling process or the Environmental Procedures.

Keep on top of ISO 14001 non-conformance with our help

So, now you’re up to speed with all the things to avoid non-conformance with ISO 14001, now it’s time to talk about how we can help you! 

Partnering with us gives you the chance to demonstrate your commitment to environmental management. What’s more, we’ll be with you every step of the way, to check for any non-conformities, helping you to focus on saving your business money by reducing waste and energy. 

If you feel like you could benefit from ISO 14001, then contact us today at 0333 344 3646, or send your query to one of our certification consultants.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Claire Price

  • Company:

    Content Marketing Executive

  • Bio:

    Claire worked for Citation ISO Certification between 2020 and 2022 writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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