What Is an ISO 14001 Audit Checklist?

Updated April 17, 2017

Created by the International Standards Organization, the ISO 14001 Standard is accepted worldwide as the Environmental Management System (EMS) which governs how your business operates in today's environmentally aware society. With an eye on the organisation sustaining business profitability, it guides you toward creating a company culture with a focus on minimising the operations' impact on the environment.


There is no one best way to utilise an audit checklist. You can find a stock template or sample checklist on the Internet in any number of places. Keep in mind the stock template is going to duplicate much of what the ISO 14001 standard requires from your environmental management system. Take a stock sample checklist and use it as a guide to create a custom ISO 14001 checklist. It's much better for your company and more impressive to third-party auditors if you utilise a checklist tailored to your organisation's processes.


The audit checklist is intended to provide you the focus necessary to carry out your internal audit efficiently and effectively while meeting the requirements of the standard. You should still carry out your audit with a certain amount of flexibility. Your audit findings may lead you to evaluate areas or processes not specifically on your checklist. This is OK. It would be wrong to ignore your observations in order to maintain a rigid focus only on the checklist. Use it to guide your audit. Don't use your checklist to the exclusion of all other observational opportunities.


The ISO 14001 audit checklist should function as one of your environmental management system quality records. Your checklist should provide enough space for your auditors to record short notes and other pertinent information about their findings. When your third-party registrar conducts an assessment of your internal auditing program, these checklists will be evaluated for efficacy.

Essential Elements

Your checklist should cover all of the essential elements of the standard. Review and improvements to your EMS manual should start your checklist. Make notes about specific procedures you'll want to review against employee performance. Identify the EMS records required by your procedures and confirm their existence. Human resources and records of appropriate training should make the list. Review each portion of your environmental management system from the top down and incorporate all of the essential elements of your program into your ISO 14001 audit checklist.


Once you've finished auditing, your ISO 14001 checklist will form the basis of your final report and any corrective actions necessary as a result of the audit team's observations. Your team's note-taking skills should be good enough to be clear and concise. The objective is to refresh the memory of the audit efforts, so that a more comprehensive report is prepared in advance of your closing meeting with appropriate management.

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About the Author

Mickey Arthur has been writing professionally since 1989 as a procedure writer and process designer. Additionally, he's been writing as a hobby on topics that interest him for more than 25 years. Recent publications include articles for eHow on family matters, workplace safety, sports and automobiles.