Environmental Non-Compliances

Learn QHSE / Environmental Management / Environmental Non-conformances

What are Non-conformances?

Non-conformances are defined as a failure to conform, or non-fulfilment of specified requirements. Basically, whenever an organisation does not satisfy the requirements of either the standard, relevant third-party requirements or their own procedures then that would be considered a non-conformance

So, what does this mean in terms of an Environmental Management System or ISO 14001 certification?

That really depends on the severity of the non-conformance – when it comes to the certification audit, they are generally separated into two categories, minor (sometimes referred to as a part non-conformance) and major.

Identification of a major non-conformance will often result from –

  • Absence of procedures
  • Failure to meet requirements of the standard i.e. no management reviews conducted or no internal audits performed
  • Actions not aligning with procedures i.e. the procedure specifies equipment to be calibrated every 3 months, but records show this is happening just once per year
  • Not addressing a minor conformance identified as part of the audit in the time-frame provided
  • Having multiple minor non-conformances that relate to the same process
  • Major spill or discharge to air, water and waste

Minor non-conformances are defined as any non-conformance that isn’t major, or to put it another way; the non-conformance is unlikely to result in the failure of the EMS.

For instance an isolated incident i.e. Daily records are required for equipment use, but it is noted that one record was not inputted


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