Guide: The Differences Between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001
Download our Differences Between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 Guide to discover how two of the world's most popular standards compare to each other.
You've done the hard work and implemented an environmental management system, and you're ready to take the next steps: auditing and certification. But it's normal to have some concerns about what ISO 14001:2015 audit questions you will face.
When you're contemplating ISO 14001 questions and answers, it's important to remember the auditor is not trying to catch you doing something wrong. The auditor's goal is to confirm that your environmental management system meets the standard.
With that in mind, there's still a wide range of questions that the auditor could ask. We'll go over some sample ISO 14001 audit questions to make sure you're prepared for the audit and interview.
Before discussing what questions auditors will ask for an ISO 14001 audit, it might be helpful to review what ISO 14001:2015 is. Certification to ISO 14001 demonstrates that a company has an environmental management system that addresses significant environmental aspects of its operation, enhances environmental performance and mitigates adverse environmental impacts. ISO 14001 is a popular standard, with more than 300,000 certifications in 171 countries.
ISO 14001 audit questions and answers will focus on the seven essential sections that outline the standard's most crucial environmental management system requirements:
The company needs to demonstrate that it established and maintained its environmental management system policies using the clauses outlined within those seven sections. The audit criteria touch on environmental performance, environmental objectives, compliance obligations, internal and external communications, emergency preparedness and intended outcomes, just to name a few topics.
Some companies pursue ISO 14001 certification at a customer's request, but there are many other advantages of implementing an environmental management system. Benefits msy include:
A robust environmental management system also can foster a culture of continual improvement, which is a critical benefit in and of itself. It's crucial to understand how your company benefits from certification because some ISO 14001 questions and answers might touch on why the company implemented its environmental management system.
All auditors have their own lists of ISO 14001:2015 audit questions and their own interview styles. Prior to any audit, your auditor will provide a detailed audit plan that will detail the scope of the audit so you can be prepared with any required people and materials in adavance. But you can be reasonably sure you'll be asked some version of the following sample questions:
A management review is an integral part of an internal audit and will be a focus of an external auditor. Sample ISO 14001 audit questions that management may face include:
Clearly explain the objectives to top management and speak their language to ensure they understand that providing evidence of compliance is a crucial goal.
Production employees also will be involved in the ISO 14001 interview. Sample ISO 14001 audit questions for employees cover topics like:
If your environmental management system has been appropriately established, and maintained, these should be straightforward questions for employees to answer.
Now that we've discussed potential ISO 14001 interview questions and answers, let's talk about how to prepare for the audit and interview. The most important tip is to relax. An audit is not intended to assign blame to anyone. It is a sample of processes intended to determine the effectiveness of the management system. The responder should not feel pressure to answer something they simply don’t know or aren’t aware of. If the responder isn’t sure of an answer, it is ok to say so. The auditor is not trying to catch someone doing anything wrong.Other helpful tips include:
Still have ISO 14001:2015 audit questions of your own? Smithers has years of experience helping clients through the ISO 14001 certification and audit process. Contact us today to take advantage of our expertise.