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Annex L in ISO 14001:2015

What is the Annex L Platform?

Annex L (originally called Annex SL, then renamed in 2019 to Annex L) is a management system format that helps streamline creation of new standards, and make implementing multiple standards within one organization easier.

It provides a base structure for integrating management system standards (MSS) such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. While these standards have common elements, they are described and organized differently, making it difficult for organizations to implement multiple standards.

Annex L addresses Integration issues by creating a “template” upon which ISO MSS are to be built in the future. Written primarily as a guide to those who draft the standards, the core of Annex L consists of 8 clauses and 4 appendices that encompass a “high level structure” (essentially shared high level concepts among standards), shared terms/definitions and actual shared clause titles and text. Examples of “high level structure” covered by Annex L include areas ranging from support to operations, and leadership to planning.

Building Standards Specificity On Annex L’s Mandated Structure

Annex L solves the problem of potential redundancy in basic structure for companies wishing to deploy multiple standards. It requires that a time/effort-saving common structure be used for recurring quality management standard elements. But it allows more specifics to be added for a given area of expertise, i.e. environmental or health and safety.

Why is Annex L Being Implemented In Standards Like ISO 14001:2015?

Annex L will save any organization seeking to adopt MSS time and cost. Because standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 have similar intents but different structures, text and terminology, they are more difficult to implement together. And while there are tools such as integrated standards documentation (which helps eliminate this duplication effort by creating an Integrated Management System or IMS), there has been a call to streamline the certification process for multiple standards adoption.

An IMS can streamline a businesses operations by merging different areas of compliance. For example, combining quality, environmental and safety into a single IMS requires less resources and is more likely to succeed than maintaining separate management systems for each. Standards can either be combined or integrated. An Integrated Management System integrates two or more standards from different disciplines into one. (example: ISO 9001 + ISO 14001 + ISO 45001)

Rather than just creating parallel systems, true integration means that similar processes are implemented without duplication or confusion. IMS elements that exist in each system are treated as common resources. They are defined, deployed and managed in the same manner and do not have to deal with multiple, often slightly different interpretations of their roles in executing each standard. Annex L should make creation of an IMS much easier.

Annex L: Features/Benefits

As noted, there are many reasons for management system standards (MSS) writers to adopt the foundational Annex L, including:

  • Eliminating conflicts in MSS platforms
  • Faster development of standards
  • Less duplication of concepts, terms and potentially shared text
  • Less low value revisions to common or shared areas
  • Integrating high level, common business management goals, issues, needs

Annex L addresses these needs by alignment of similar clauses. This, in turn, fosters easier integration by adopting similar formats and similar terms and definitions. In addition, Annex L addresses key high level components which are being driven by market forces such as:

  • Risk Management
  • Accessible Documentation
  • Wider Involvement

On a practical level, Annex L could help improve and streamline this combination process that has already been started through our IMS efforts. We see the potential for further combining and streamlining joint sections. Our ISO 9001-14001 All In One Certification Package combines the documents into one easy to execute bundle. As you can see, there are sections that are virtually identical, which are required by both standards that could be further rationalized through a program like Annex L.

Integrated-Standards.com has many tools that essentially help eliminate this type of duplication between current ISO standards for companies wishing to implement an Integrated Management System that integrates two or more standards from different disciplines into one such as ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environmental), ISO 45001 (Safety) and ISO 50001 (Energy).


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