What is the difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001? [+Template]

Published: February 25th, 2021

Author: Matt Quinn

Categories: ISO Risk Management

Despite the large number of ISO standards available for organizations to follow, two stand out from the rest. According to the latest results, ISO 9001:2015 is the world’s the most popular standard, with 878,664 valid certificates. In second place is ISO 14001:2015 with 307,059 valid certificates. In a distant third is ISO 22000:2005 & 2018 with just 32,120 valid certificates.


The reason so many organizations are certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 is because of their focus. Quality management for ISO 9001 and environmental management for ISO 14001. Two areas of significant importance in our globalized world.


Importantly, there are similarities between the two. For us at Apomatix, the most notable is the fact that both standards have risk management requirements. Meaning both require organisations to implement and maintain a risk management regime. (This can be integrated, covering both standards at once.)


Those looking to get started with the quality risk register (for 9001) or environmental risk register (for 14001) can make use of the free download below.


**Free Download: Risk Register Template**


However, despite some overlap, they are ultimately ‘looking at’ different areas. So if you are considering certification, you need to be sure that you pick the appropriate standard!


What is ISO 9001?


ISO 9001:2015 (which replaced ISO 9001:2008) is the international standard for Quality Management. It sets out the policies and procedures you need to implement to meet customer requirements and enhance customer satisfaction.


ISO 9001 helps you identify your objectives and determine the processes and resources required to achieve your desired outcomes. This can help you demonstrate that your business has the systems and controls in place to meet customer needs. This is achieved by implementing a Quality Management System (QMS).


Having a QMS in place helps you deliver your products or services to your customers in an efficient and repeatable manner.


Perhaps most importantly, ISO 9001 can help you do this whether you a large or small organization. The requirements are agnostic when it comes to size. Implementing them will help whether you are an organization of five or one of five thousand!


In a similar manner, you can also use the standard whether you produce a physical product or provide a service.


Many people think that 9001 is only really ‘right’ for manufactures of physical goods, however this is not the case! 9001 and the ISO 9000 family more broadly can be applied to a range of different scenarios. For example, ISO 18091:2019 provides guidelines for the use of 9001 in local government.


What is ISO 14001?


ISO 14001:2015 is the international standard for Environmental Management. It sets out the policies and procedures you need to implement to enhance your environmental performance.


The ISO 14001 standard helps you identify your objectives and determine the processes and resources required to manage your environmental impact. This is done by implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS).


Having an EMS in place helps you improve environmental performance, manage environmental aspects of your operations and meet regulatory requirements.


Like with 9001, organizations of all sizes can implement ISO 14001 to help manage their impact on the environment. ISO 14001 can also be used by organizations in a variety of different sectors, whether they provide products or services.


Similarities between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001


As 9001 and 14001 are both ISO management system standards (MSS), they share a number of requirements. This is because all ISO-MSS follow the same High Level Structure (HLS).


As mentioned in our article on Internal Audits & ISO Standards, the HLS was finalized in 2015. It is a set of ten clauses that all ISO MSS must use. This means all MSS have a similar design, which allows for integration between systems from different disciplines (e.g. quality and environmental management).


The HLS uses the same text core text for every MSS and then adds subject matter specific text as needed. The ten shared clauses of the HLS are:


  1. Scope – Sets out the scope of the ISO standard (e.g. quality, health & safety, etc)
  2. Normative references – A list of references documents needed for the application of the standard. In certain cases this clause is not used.
  3. Terms and definitions – A list of generic and standard specific terms and their definitions.
  4. Context of the organization – Requirements linked to issues that affect your organisation. These can be internal or external.
  5. Leadership – Sets out what is required from those in senior leadership (Top Management) positions at your organisation.
  6. Planning – Outlines the approach your organisation must take in planning how to address threats and opportunities (e.g. using a quality risk register). This clause also defines the steps you must take to ensure the management system does what it is required to do.
  7. Support – This clause lays out the resources that need to be provided to support the management system. This can include (but is not limited to) competent people, the correct infrastructure and the right environment.
  8. Operation – Sets out how organizations must determine the processes required for their operations. Also looks at “acceptance criteria” and contingency plans in the case of non-conformities or emergencies.
  9. Performance evaluation – Details what organizations must monitor and report upon. This clause also includes the Internal Audit and Management Review requirements.
  10. Improvement – Lists the requirements for dealing with non-conformities and incidents. Also covers actions that must be taken to control, correct and deal with consequences.


Differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001


While both 9001 and 14001 share the ten clauses from the HLS, there are some important differences between the two. First and foremost is their subject matter. 9001 is focused on quality management and 14001 on environmental management.


Because of this there are different requirements contained within the shared clauses. For instance, clause nine of 9001 (Performance evaluation) requires organizations track customer satisfaction. They must “monitor customers’ perceptions of the degree to which their needs and expectations have been fulfilled.” This requirement is absent from 14001.


In turn, ISO 14001 has a number of requirements which are missing from 9001. For example, in clause six (planning) 14001 has requirements for planning for environmental aspects and planning for compliance obligations. The latter of which is in recognition of the large amount of environmental legislation globally.




In conclusion, there are a number of significant difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. More than anything else, this is down to the different focus of the respective standards. 9001 has requirements specific to the issue of quality management. While 14001 has requirements specific to the issue of environmental management.


However, there are also similarities between the two standards. This is due to both being ISO-MSS and so both following the HLS. This makes it easier for organizations looking to implement more than one ISO-MSS at once, as certain requirements are shared. For example, you could combine your quality risk register and environmental risk register.



But whether you are looking to implement one standard or two, the first step is to perform a gap analysis. This will help you understand what needs to be done to conform to the standard in question. It will also reveal what you have already implemented, and what more you need to do.


To help with this, we have built an automated tool which can take you through the standards line by line. For more information, please visit see our product page or book a call with our Head of Operations at a time that suits you.

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