Climate Change and ISO 9001

April 29, 2024

ISO 9001 was amended in February to include requirements related to climate change. The update is effective immediately, so auditors will be looking for it already.

The amendment also applies to other management system standards, including ISO 45001 safety and ISO 14001 environmental.

In this article, we show how you can easily to address the new requirements in your management system.

The new requirements

The changes are just two sentences added to clause 4 ‘Context of the organisation’.

Organisations must now determine whether climate change is an issue relevant to their strategic direction, and when reviewing and monitoring information about interested parties, organisations should be aware that some of them may have requirements related to climate change.

How is it relevant?

Climate change could be a relevant issue for an organisation in any number of ways:

  • energy costs
  • supply chain disruptions
  • higher or lower demand for your products or services - either directly or because you serve an affected industry - e.g., renewables, coal, tourism, agriculture, etc.
  • more frequent disruptions due to weather-related events, and
  • insurance flow-on effects
  • operational changes, e.g., to protect field workers in higher temperatures,
  • higher / harder rainfall affecting road and paving surfaces, and drainage needs
  • changes in healthcare needs, e.g. seasonal allergies, heat-related illness
  • environmental changes affecting tourism numbers, e.g. reef bleaching, bush fire,

Interested parties

Even if climate change is not directly relevant, you may have stakeholders or interested parties that impose climate change related requirements, for example:

What to do

Auditing guidance for ISO 9001 was released in March, so you can see what evidence your auditor will be looking for in a quality management system.

There shouldn't be any big changes needed.

You can just add ‘climate change’ into whatever method you already use to monitor and review information about other external issues relevant to the organisation.

External issues relevant to the organisation might be documented in:

If you determined that climate change is a relevant issue for your organisation with potentially significant effects, then like other risks, the organisation is expected to plan and take actions to address the risks (or opportunities) associated with climate change.

When there are several ways in which the organisation could be affected, you'll need to plan and implement multiple actions.

Planned actions might be both short term and long term - such as Network Rail in the UK reducing speeds on sections of track in the short term, and almost £3 billion planned in longer term drainage and embankment improvements.

Example of a simple analysis and action plan

The complexity of the analysis and documentation will of course vary for different organisations, but most small and medium businesses can monitor and review information on all their internal and external issues (including climate change) in a simple table like this:

Table showing external issue climate change risk and actions to address

Your response depends on how serious the effect could be, so you can choose to do nothing about low risk issues. As you come back to monitor and review your internal and external issues, that risk rating might change over time.

Quality Systems Toolbox software gives you a place to securely store, share, and control documented information like this so it's easy to find the most current version whenever you need it - like for the annual review. Depending on how you prefer to manage the information, it could be stored as a risk assessment, or as a controlled document.

Want to see whether Quality Systems Toolbox software could help your management system? Please contact us!

*image by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

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