ISO 14001 Guidance - 4. Implementation and operation

4.4 Documentation

The level of detail of the documentation should be sufficient to describe the environmental management system and how its parts work together, and to provide direction on where to obtain more detailed information on the operation of specific parts of the environmental management system. This documentation may be integrated with documentation of other systems implemented by the organization. It does not have to be in the form of a manual.


The extent of the environmental management system documentation may differ from one organization to another, depending on

  1. the size and type of organization and its activities, products or services,
  2. the complexity of processes and their interactions, and
  3. the competence of personnel.

Examples of documents include

  • statements of policy, objectives and targets,
  • information on significant environmental aspects,
  • procedures,
  • process information,
  • organizational charts,
  • internal and external standards,
  • site emergency plans, and
  • records.

Any decision to document procedure(s) should be based on issues such as

  • the consequences, including those to the environment, of not doing so,
  • the need to demonstrate compliance with legal and with other requirements to which the organization subscribes,
  • the need to ensure that the activity is undertaken consistently,
  • the advantages of doing so, which can include easier implementation through communication and training, easier maintenance and revision, less risk of ambiguity and deviations, and demonstrability and visibility,
  • the requirements of this International Standard.

Documents originally created for purposes other than the environmental management system may be used as part of this system and, if so used, need to be referenced in the system.