ISO 14001 has come a long way since its formulation in the defence industry over five decades ago. Originally created to ensure quality of products supplied to the MOD and continuity in the procedures carried out by its workers, the concept of quality assurance was then championed by the UK government in 1966. Unfortunately at this time suppliers were undergoing assessments from a wide range of their customers and the idea of further assessment was not a popular one.

  • 1969-Government committee submit a report recommending suppliers be assessed against a generic standard of quality assurance.
  • 1971? BSI (British Standards Institute) publish BS 9000 the first UK standard for quality assurance for use in the electronics industry
  • 1974? BS 5179 “Guidelines for Quality Assurance” is published. Suppliers can now demonstrate quality assurance to customers through third-party assessment.
  • 1979? BS5750 is published as the culmination of meetings between BSI and industry throughout the ’70s. It is agreed that this document will replace key industry’s own standards.
  • 1987? Initial ISO 9000 certification standard is published as ISO 9000:1987. It had the same structure as BS5750 and was more suited to manufacturing with emphasis on conformance to procedures rather than overall management processes.
  • 1994? The standard undergoes its first revision and becomes ISO 9000:1994. Emphasis is placed on creating quality assurance by seeking to identify and prevent possible deviations before they occur. However like its predecessor many companies took the requirements very literally, created a lot of substantiate paperwork and got too caught up in the bureaucracy of it all.
  • 2000 ? The standard is revised again to ISO 14001:2000. This time the standard aimed to focus predominantly on the concept of process management in an attempt to create ‘a documented system’ as opposed to ‘a system of documents’. Emphasis was now on continually improving processes and monitoring customer satisfaction. The following eight core principles were introduced:
    1. Improved consistency with traceability
    2. Enhanced customer focus
    3. Focused leadership
    4. The involvement of people
    5. A system approach to management
    6. Continual improvement
    7. A factual approach to decision making
    8. Mutually beneficial supplier relations
  • 2008? Latest version of the standard is published ISO 14001:2008. Minor adjustments are made to clarify existing points and to strengthen the links between other management standards.