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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops standards that help businesses and organizations all over the world operate safely and efficiently. ISO 14001 addresses how these entities can reduce their impact on the environment through the use of an environmental management system (EMS). An effective EMS allows the company to conduct its normal operations while also working towards internationally agreed upon environmental goals. This includes cutting waste, minimizing pollution, and reducing dependence on harsh chemicals or limited resources. An ISO 14001 auditor works with these organizations to help them develop an EMS, and then certifies that the company is in full compliance with this international standard.
ISO standards are largely voluntary, yet many companies and organizations still work with an ISO 14001 auditor to certify that they meet this standard. Some countries have adopted this standard as law, while others incorporate it into their legal codes. Some manufacturers require their suppliers to be ISO 14001 certified, while others undergo certification simply to increase marketability with the buying public. A successful ISO 14001 audit can also help companies avoid fines and legal troubles in some cases.
Generally, the ISO 14001 auditor is an independent consultant. He may have training in environmental engineering or a related field, as well as experience with ISO certification. Some countries require organizations to hire an ISO 14001 auditor who has been accredited by the ISO, while others allow any third party auditor. In the United States and England, companies must undergo certification from a designated board of auditors.
An internal auditor is typically not capable of performing ISO 14001 certification, but can help a company prepare for this certification. In-house consultants plan the EMS and help to implement it based on their knowledge of both the company and ISO standards. Once the organization is ready to undergo certification, they must hire an external auditor. Each company must be audited and certified every three years in order to maintain compliance.
No matter what type of ISO 14001 auditor is selected, he may work with the company to create an effective EMS. He oversees the implementation of the EMS, then tests it for compliance. He may also train employees on how to best carry out these plans. Finally, he certifies that the company meets all required standards, and registers this certification with the ISO and other governing bodies. If the company is not ready for certification, he may work in a troubleshooting capacity to remedy any problems prior to retesting.