The ISO 14001 standard leaves a lot to be interpreted by its users. As the standard is growing in popularity the external environmental auditors are becoming key players in the environmental arena. Through interpretations, they form the linkage between the standard document and its application in reality.
This study is based on interviews conducted with auditors representing all nine certification bodies in Sweden and at the board that accredits these firms. The paper presents how auditors interpret and apply central requirements of ISO 14001, with the aim to illuminate important issues from an environmental point of view.
It can be concluded that many important requirements are interpreted differently. There are disagreements regarding what criteria are approved when determining which environmental aspects are significant. Further on, the standard's requirement for continual improvement is normally transformed to improvements regarding a few ratios. The paper, amongst other issues, also deals with auditors' competence, their objectivity and their opinions about the efforts of certified organizations.
2001. Vol. 8, no 4, 183-192 p.