Greer is pleased to announce that we have obtained our ISO 14001 registration as of February 7, 2020. The registration is a symbol of our dedication to environmental stewardship. After 10 months of thorough implementation time, we successfully completed the process of becoming a registered entity. Not sure what ISO 14001 is? View our previous blog post here to learn more. Read on below to get an idea of our registration process.
What makes an organization want to become ISO 14001 registered? The answer likely differs widely, but we at Greer wanted to live up to our tag line of “Go Green with Greer.” This endeavor was supported by our top management and that spirit flowed down to all employees. Obtaining this certification was truly a team effort.
The initial planning phase of an ISO implementation is extremely important. In order to get this important step right, we utilized Alabama Technology Network – a well-respected consulting organization. This helped us get a great jump start to implementation.
The implementation phase is where the majority of the work occurs. Creating new procedures, forms and policies is very common in this phase. Thankfully, we already had many procedures in place that our employees have followed for years. Then, it was only a matter of standardizing everything to conform to ISO and employee training.
During both the planning and implementation phases, we had to dig deep into our processes to determine what needed attention. This is arguably the most beneficial part of the process for us internally. It has really helped us become more efficient.
Once a system has been in place for roughly 6 months, the organization can schedule its initial registration audits. The initial audit is scheduled in two parts – Stage 1 and Stage 2. In a Stage 1 audit, the registrar is looking to see that you have a good baseline of data, procedures and documentation in place to undergo a Stage 2 (full) audit. We had our Stage 1 audit in mid-December of 2019.
Upon successful completion of the Stage 1 audit, the Stage 2 audit will be scheduled. The Stage 2 audit is a full (and at times intense) look into your entire environmental management system. Documentation is required to provide evidence of adherence to the system. The auditor will also both interview and observe employees to obtain observed evidence. Our Stage 2 audit was completed in mid-January of 2020.
Surveillance Audits/Continual Improvement
Upon successful completion of the Stage 2 audit, the organization will become registered to the ISO 14001 standard (also know as being “certified”). The work, however, is not over. Each certification is only valid for 3 years. Therefore, an organization must be re-certified every 3 years.
In addition to re-certification, the organization is required to have a “surveillance audit” every year. The primary purpose of this audit is to ensure that the organization is maintaining and improving its management system. This is similar to a Stage 1 audit. Every third year, the organization must go through a new Stage 2 audit to maintain its certification.
We are very proud to receive our ISO 14001 registration. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication by our employees. We have already seen the benefits of the system and would encourage any other organization to look into implementing a system of their own. You can find more information related to our policy on our ISO 14001 Policy page.