EMS 2015 – Context of Organization & Documentation

Changes to ISO 14001 provide a much improved interface with ISO 9001:2015 as it is written in the same high level structure (HLS) as the 10 sections of ISO 9001. An example is internal auditing – content and meaning are almost identical as is section numbering.

Documented information is another good example where writers adopted the same meaning for both QMS and EMS. Key terminology shared by both standards can be found in Annex A at the back each standard:
  • Documented Information - general term including both documentation and records.
  • Maintain Documented Information - procedures, work instructions and other documents that need to be maintained current for use by appropriate personnel.
  • Retain Documented Information - records
In preparing to develop a Context of Organization, it might be valuable to first draft the scope statement to ensure all parts and pieces of the Context of the Organization are understood.

One of the first requirements in the scope is physical boundaries. This could be the physical address of the organization, if it is a single building in the EMS. However, if there are multiple buildings, it will be necessary to determine if all the buildings should be included under physical boundaries. In addition, the scope should address issues of interested parties associated with the organization's EMS. An example might be compliance factors. Standard writers wanted to ensure the scope emphasized all related issues to an organization's environment.

An EMS organization has to maintain its scope as current documented information but the remainder of Section 4 does not have to be documented. An example is a verbal list of interested parties and issues as part of the Context of the Organization.

However, if a verbal list is developed, top management should be aware of the interested parties and issues in order to adequately support the EMS as called out in Section 5 Leadership. Revisions to both standards have given top management a much greater leadership role.

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