Road construction and civil earthworks, including demolition, bulk earthworks and maintenance works, are likely to have environmental impacts. These environmental impacts may include clearing of native vegetation; discharge of sediment or water into nearby stormwater drains or waterways; emissions of noise, dust, or odours that cause nuisance or potential health impacts; the escape of litter; or excavation or importation of unsuitable fill materials.

All of these potential impacts should be considered prior to construction and an effective plan developed to manage impacts on the environment, and other nearby sensitive receivers. 

What are the Environmental Requirements?

Environmental laws and regulations relevant to your road or civil construction project will be depend on the type of works, the location and potential sensitive receivers. In Australia, federal, state and local governments jointly administer environmental protection laws.

During planning for your road construction or civil earthworks project, a legislative review should be undertaken to determine:

1. Implications of the proposed project in relation to Commonwealth, State and local laws

2. Non-statutory approvals requirements such as the Queensland Government Koala Conservation Policy as well as self-assessable guidelines and codes

3. Other obligations required for compliance with legislation such as standards

4. The potential for environmental offsets triggered by the project.

Approval for a construction or civil works project issued by the relevant authority, such as local council or state government, can have conditions relating to the minimisation of environmental harm and local nuisance. A common condition is the requirement to prepare a Construction Environmental Management Plan or CEMP. 

What is a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)?

A CEMP describes how construction activities will be managed to avoid or minimise environmental impacts. As well as how environmental management requirements will be implemented. A CEMP should be prepared when there is a risk that construction activities could cause environmental harm or environmental nuisance. 

What is the Purpose of a CEMP?

A CEMP describes how the construction activities will be managed to avoid or mitigate environmental or nuisance impacts, and how those environmental management requirements will be implemented.

What is the Content of a CEMP?

A CEMP needs to contain sufficient information to demonstrate that the potential impacts on the environment and surrounding community have been identified, and suitable measures to mitigate those impacts will be applied prior to and during construction. 

A CEMP should include the following general information about the project: 

– Description of the location and receiving environment including sensitive receivers 

– Description of the construction works to be undertaken 

– Identification and analysis of potential environmental impacts 

– Identification and description of the management measures to be implemented to mitigate linked source−receptor−exposure pathways 

– Identification of a person or persons with responsibility for implementing the control measures

The CEMP could also include information on any higher-level environmental management systems, work procedures, document control, corrective action and review procedures. For more information refer to our Environmental Management Plan article. Or, download our key components of an Environmental Management Plan here.

To prevent or minimise environmental impact, it is important to understand the link between construction activities and the potential for these activities to impact on the environment. 

Construction Activities and Environmental Impacts 

The types of environmental aspects that need to be considered may include: 

– Flora and fauna

– Erosion and sedimentation

– Water quality including groundwater

– Air quality

– Indigenous and non-indigenous heritage

– Noise and vibration

– Waste

– Hazardous materials

– Rehabilitation

Examples of the potential environmental impacts from construction activities on these environmental aspects are summarised in the table below. 

Construction Activities and Environmental Impacts 

Environmental management measures to be implemented during construction will depend on the nature of the site activities, and the sensitivity of the project area and surrounding land or water environment. For example, excavations resulting in steep slopes are likely to lead to soil erosion and water quality problems downstream and will require the installation of erosion protection measures.

Why Your Civil or Road Construction Project Needs to Comply  

Environmental compliance means conforming with relevant environmental laws, regulations, standards and other requirements. The importance of being compliant with your environmental requirements isn’t just about being green, it is essential to ensuring the success of your construction project by limiting your exposure to regulatory and public scrutiny; ensuring compliance with contractual and best practice requirements; as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

For more information on environmental compliance refer to our Article on Environmental Compliance Australia

Environmental Audits for Compliance

An environmental audit can be used to investigate the compliance of your project and/or the extent of your environmental liability. An environmental audit evaluates the compliance of management systems and plans with regulations, internal policies or other compliance drivers. Assurance through auditing verification and reporting programs can be used to identify gaps and limitations as well as allocate ownership and accountability to the process of implementing environmental compliance for your project.

For more information on this topic ever to our environmental audits article.

How We Can Help Your Project

Applied Environment & Safety provided environmental support to Hazell Bros during their road construction project. This 8.1 million project involved intersection upgrades and safety widening works on the Bruce Highway located between Gympie and Maryborough in southeast Queensland.

Our role in this local project included environmental audits and inspections during construction. At the commencement of construction, an audit was undertaken to ensure compliance with the requirements in the CEMP. Then monthly inspections were undertaken to ensure ongoing compliance. This included inspection of sediment and erosion controls, waste and water management, and hazardous substance storage and use. Short reports were developed following the inspections for submission to the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

We believe in using our expertise and knowledge to add value and improve project outcomes for our clients. We used our extensive construction knowledge to identify environmental risks and provide practical solutions. Contact us.

An introduction to AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.

What are Management Systems?

What is a Health & Safety Management System (HSMS)?

Importance of Health and Safety Management Systems

Developing a certified Health and Safety Management System

Do you need assistance?

What are Management Systems?

A management system provides structured policies and processes designed to help companies manage their impacts and improve their performance. A management system defines how a company will identify, assess, monitor and maintain their interactions with their workers and the working environment.

Management systems are made up of a series of interconnected elements that drive continual improvement. In order to deliver continual improvement consistently across a company, management processes are typically based on a four-phase cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

1. Plan for an activity

2. Do the activity

3. Check effectiveness of controls

4 Act on implementing the process with the effective controls

Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems -  Plan Do Check Act Diagram
Management Systems Plan Do Check Act – PDCA Diagram

For further information on the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle see our Management Systems article.

What is a Health & Safety Management System (HSMS)?

A Health & Safety Management System (HSMS) provides a systematic approach to managing health and safety. A HSMS helps an organisation to establish, implement, and maintain policies and processes to eliminate hazards, minimise risks including system deficiencies, and address nonconformities.

The purpose of a HSMS is to set out, in a structured and organised way, the particular aspects of your operations that influence the health and safety outcomes of your workers and other people at your worksites.

HSMS Structure

The size and the complexity of your company will influence how your HSMS is developed; that is the format of the system and level of information that is included. For small companies undertaking lower risk operations to health and safety, the structure of the HSMS may be organised into one document. For large organisations with multiple sites and various operations and/or high-risk activities then various policies, standards, procedures and plans may be required to ensure an effective management system.

The HSMS will document the following:

Safety policy: this will outline the company’s intentions in relation to how health and safety outcomes will be managed

Management structure: this ensures that the people who have particular responsibilities for safety are clearly identified

Safe work procedures: these procedures describe how risks arising from particular hazards will be controlled

Processes for providing information and training and appropriate inductions for workers

Other procedural issues such as reporting of incidents, record keeping and maintenance of the safety management system

Emergency procedures

ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System

There are internationally recognised standards for management systems including ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety. This Standard helps organisations to establish, implement, and maintain processes to eliminate hazards, minimise risks and address nonconformities. It provides guidance on how to use management processes to prevent work-related injuries and ill health, as well as how to proactively improve workplace health and safety performance.

Importance of Health and Safety Management Systems

The establishment and implementation of a HSMS is key to identifying your health and safety risks and requirements to ensure effective controls are implemented. A management system is an effective method of documenting processes and ensuring consistency in implementation as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

The benefits of an effective HSMS include:

  • Improved risk management and protection of workers
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory and compliance obligations
  • Streamline safety hazard and risk management with efficient use of resources
  • Improve employee reporting, communication, and overall safety culture
  • Centralisation of documentation and monitoring for continuous improvement

Developing a certified Health and Safety Management System

We can assist you with the development of a certified HSMS. Our steps for the development of a certified HSMS are:

1. Health and safety review

2. System development

3. System implementation

4. Internal audit

5. Certification audit

These steps are detailed below.

Health and Safety Review

Before we start, we will provide you with background information about the standard, AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 , that the system is being developed in accordance with.

During the review your consultant will:

  • Explain the requirements of the Standard
  • Work with you to identify and assess of all hazards and relevant risks
  • Demonstrate the use of a Risk Assessment Model to assess and prioritise risks
  • Work with you to establish health and safety objectives and targets

System Development

Your HSMS, including all procedures and documentation required for certification will be developed by an experienced consultant. If you already have health and safety documents and processes, these will be integrated into the management system.

You will review the system and provide us with feedback. If necessary, we will change the system based on your feedback.

Implementation

Your consultant will provide you with clear guidance on how to implement the system into your business. We will help you understand the everyday requirements of your HSMS and its applicability and alignment with your health and safety objectives and targets.

We will provide assistance with any issue, query or request you may have to assist you with implementing the system in your business.

Internal Audit

Before certification, an internal audit of the system is required. The internal audit will be conducted by your Applied Environment & Safety consultant to ensure the successful implementation of the management system. A detailed audit report with recommendations will be provided.

Certification Audit

We will help you to select a certification body appropriate to your needs and liaise with them regarding the timing of the certification audit to ensure that you are prepared and that your timescales are met.

The management system will be certified for conformance with the Standard by a third-party certifying body.  Your Applied Environment & Safety consultant will be available, generally by phone, during Stage 1 of the certification audit.

Do you need assistance?

We have vast experience in the review, development and implementation of health and safety management systems.

Our experience includes:

  • Management system compliance review 
  • Review and development of management systems to Standards and other regulatory requirements
  • Management system documents development including policies, standards, and safe operating procedures development
  • Auditing of management system for compliance and opportunities for improvement

Contact us if you need further support or have detailed question for our team of experts.

This article provides an in-depth understanding of an ISO 14001 internal audit checklist while diving into the following topics:

What is ISO 14001

Why is ISO 14001 Important

Implementation of ISO 14001

Audits for Compliance

ISO 14001 Certification

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is an internationally-recognised framework that provides organisations with the requirements of an environmental management system. An environmental management system (EMS) aligned with the ISO 14001 Standard allows an organisation to identify their environmental risks, and implement processes to ensure continual improvement.

Want to better understand what a management system is? Take a look at our management systems: Introduction article.

An effectively implemented EMS allows an organisation to minimise its impact on the environment, and optimise environmental opportunities through a systematic framework. This is achieved through mapping out organisational strategic objectives and aligning them with goals and outcomes that are environmentally sustainable.

In essence, ISO 14001 provides a framework that determines how your organisation is currently impacting the environment, identifying areas of improvement and potential risks along the way.

Why is ISO 14001 Important? 

There are many reasons why an organisation should take a strategic approach to improve its environmental performance.

Users of the standard have reported that ISO 14001 helps: 

– Demonstrate compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements 

– Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees 

– Improve company reputation and confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication 

– Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management 

– Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs 

– Encourage improved environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organisation’s business systems 

Implementation of ISO 14001

Below are some key considerations for the implementation of an EMS aligned to ISO 14001.

Context of the Organisation:

Consideration of the external and internal issues that can affect the intended outcomes of the system need to be included in your EMS. The needs and expectations of interested parties should also be considered in regard to environmental management.

Emphasis on Leadership and Commitment:

It is widely recognised that a successful management system requires commitment and support from top management. Emphasis on leadership by top management is required in the Standard. This includes the integration of environmental management into the organisation’s core strategies, processes and priorities.

Risk Approach to Management:

The Standard requires the identification, determination and inclusion of aspects that can have a significant environmental impact as part of a risk based management approach. This includes the requirement for organisations to specify the criteria used to determine risk.

Life Cycle Perspective:

Thinking of each stage of a product or service as part of a lifecycle perspective is required under the Standard. This includes considering the organisation’s control or influence during procurement through to end-of-life treatments.

Audits For Compliance

An audit is a systematic, independent and documented process for determining whether your management systems and processes effectively address specific risks and are being implemented in accordance with internal and external requirements. 

The objective of an ISO 14001 audit is to assess operations to identify strengths and weaknesses, determine effectiveness and compliance, and measure progress. This will be in relation to:

– Compliance with statutory and ISO standard requirements

– Implementation of policies, standards and procedures

– Management control of environmental practices

– Staff awareness of risks and controls

– Maintaining accreditation or other external stakeholder requirements

– Exploring improvement opportunities

For more information on environmental audits, see A Guide To Environmental Audits & Inspections

ISO 14001 Internal Audit Checklist

An ISO internal audit checklist can be used as an effective tool for checking the implementation of your EMS. Self-auditing can help to define a high-level overview of your organisation’s performance, and determine the effectiveness of the management system. It can also help to identify problem areas and successfully apply principles of continuous improvement.

Self-auditing is best used as a tool to discover the potential opportunities for innovation and continuous improvement. This is not a replacement for a third party certified body audit and will not necessarily result in ISO certification.

Further details on ISO certification is provided in the next section.

ISO 14001 Certification

Accredited certification of your EMS to ISO 14001 is not a requirement, and organisations can enjoy many of the benefits from using the standard without going through the accredited certification process. 

However, third-party certification – where an independent certification body audits your practices against the requirements of the standard – is a way of signalling to your buyers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you have implemented the standard properly. What’s more, for some organisations, it helps to show how they meet regulatory or contractual requirements. 

How to get Certified to ISO 14001? 

If you would like more information on how to undertake an internal audit to be become certified, we would be happy to arrange a call to talk about your options, Contact Us

Further Resources:

Reference Article 1 – ISO 14001

Reference Article 2 – ISO 14001 Audit Checklist

In this article, we cover the topic of environmental compliance in Australia. In our industry we often refer to compliance; compliance with regulatory requirements, compliance with client or stakeholder requirements, compliance with industry best practice, and compliance with environmental management systems. 

But what does environmental compliance actually mean, why should you be concerned with it and what does it entail? This article sets out to answer these questions for you.

What is Environmental Compliance? 

Compliance is defined as ‘conformity in fulfilling official requirements’. That is exactly what environmental compliance means; conformity in fulfilling environmental requirements. It is the adherence to all relevant environmental laws, regulations, standards and other requirements that apply to your organisation’s activities, services and products. 

The importance of being environmentally compliant isn’t just about being green. It is essential to ensure the success of your operations by limiting your exposure to penalties and public scrutiny. Furthermore, identifying opportunities for improvement.

What is the Purpose of Environmental Compliance?

One of the most straightforward arguments for environmental compliance is that you have to do it; either it is the law, your approval conditions or your contract requirements. Government agencies enforce regulations and failure to meet their regulatory requirements can lead to fines/prosecutions which can be costly.

However, there are other reasons that should encourage you to adhere to environmental compliance:

– Promoting environmental compliance and best practice can attract new customers who want to buy products and services from an environmentally friendly business.

– Reducing the environmental impact of your business will improve the sustainability of your operations for longer term success.

– Promoting your employees to take an interest in your operations and environmental compliance. Failing to do so could negatively impact on the business as a whole.

Regulatory Requirements

Environmental laws and regulations relevant to your organisation will depend on your operations and location. In Australia, the Commonwealth, States/Territories and Local governments jointly administer environmental protection laws.

In Queensland, you and your business have a legal duty to meet general environmental protection obligations. This applies to all businesses and citizens. The Environmental Protection Act 1994 lists obligations and offences to prevent environmental harm, nuisances and contamination.


Environmental Compliance Assessment

An assessment of your environmental compliance with relevant legislation can be complicated. We have put together an environmental compliance assessment checklist below to assist you with considering your compliance obligations.

Environmental Compliance Checklist
Environmental Compliance Checklist

An environmental compliance audit can be used to assess your compliance as discussed in the section below.

We would recommend engaging Applied Environment & Safety to undertake an assessment of your compliance with relevant environmental requirements. Examples of compliance assessments that we undertaken are detailed below.

Compliance Through an Environment Audit

An environmental audit can be used to investigate the compliance status your operations and/or extent of your liability. This process is a systematic evaluation focusing on current operations and management procedures and processes. Assurance through auditing verification and reporting programs can be used to identify gaps and limitations.

An environmental audit can help to assess the nature and extent of your current impacts on the environment and compliance with regulatory requirements. This will enable you to:

– Identify how you could reduce your impact

– Prioritise environmental management activities

– Demonstrate your accountability to the government, customers and shareholders.

Environmental Compliance Australia Examples

Hereunder are some practical examples of how environmental compliance is applied to a number of different industry sectors that we service.

Power & Transmission

Applied Environment & Safety provided environmental support in the early contractor involvement (ECI) stage of the ElectraNet Eyre Peninsular transmission line upgrade project. This project involved constructing a new 270 km transmission line from Cultana to Port Lincoln in South Australia, as well as major construction works on substations.

Specific environmental management sub-plans were developed to ensure compliance with legislation, project-specific approvals and client contract specifications. This included soil, water, vegetation, waste, landholder and cultural heritage sub-plans. 

Permit applications were also developed to ensure compliance with South Australian legislation. This included Water Affecting Activities Permits for the construction of waterway crossings. 

Onshore Oil & Gas

Applied Environment & Safety regularly provides health, safety and environmental management support to Buru Energy. Buru Energy is an onshore oil and gas company based in Western Australia. 

Recently we were engaged by Buru Energy to undertake an audit of their Health, Safety and Environmental Management System against relevant legislation. This included undertaking a review and gap analysis of their current management system documents. An audit report with recommendations to ensure compliance was developed following the audit.

Roads & Transports

Applied Environment & Safety, provided environmental compliance support to Hazell Bros during the construction of the Bruce Highway upgrade project located between Gympie and Maryborough in southeast Queensland. 

At the commencement of construction, an audit was undertaken to ensure compliance with the requirements in the Environmental Management Plan. Then monthly inspections were undertaken to ensure ongoing compliance. This included inspection of sediment and erosion controls, waste and water management, and hazardous substance storage and use. Short reports were developed following the inspections for submission to the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

If you have any further questions or queries about environmental compliance or your project needs an environmental compliance audit, contact us.

Applied Environment & Safety have been nominated for the Noosa Biosphere Awards 2021. We believe in leading by example and promoting environmental sustainability. This is demonstrated through our commitment within our business as well as seeking continuous improvement for our clients.

Applied Environment & Safety are based in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Noosa is recognised globally for its outstanding biodiversity values and rich cultural history. 

About the Noose Biosphere Awards

The Noosa Biosphere Awards celebrates the individuals, businesses and organisations implementing local solutions to the global challenges of sustainable development and addressing climate change. The Awards recognise people who are making a difference in the community and are championing environmental and sustainability excellence.

In 2007, the Noosa Shire was awarded Biosphere Reserve status under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme in recognition of the ongoing efforts of the community to manage Noosa’s land, waters and wildlife sustainably while maintaining a balance between people and nature. The Noosa Biosphere is one of only four recognised UNESCO biosphere reserves in Australia and is part of a network of more than 700 sites worldwide.

This year the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation launched the first Noosa Biosphere Awards. The Noosa Biosphere Awards aim to celebrate local projects, products and services that align with the UNESCO Programme objectives and aim to broadly address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Our nomination for the awards are linked to our company values and business goals which are to promote environmental sustainability both within our company and for our clients.

Our Company Values

Our company values are making a difference through profit, people and place.

Profit: Sustainable company that adds value to our clients leading to positive environmental and safety cultures

People: Provide opportunities both within our company and to our wider community

Place: Respect the environment and community of the locations of our projects and our business practices

Our Business Goals

We have set business goals to align with our company values as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular: 

– Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth

– Responsible consumption and production

– Climate action  

Our business goals are detailed below.

Build a Local Client Base

Following our carbon emissions reduction goal, we are focussing on building our local client base. Over the past five years, we have built a successful small business based on environmental consulting for large construction projects across Australia. Although this has been successful for us, we want to sustainably grow our business and provide more benefits to our local region, therefore we are focused on building on local opportunities. 

Create Opportunities 

Through building a local client base, we are seeking to provide opportunities for local, sustainable employment and collaborations. In particular, we are focused on employment diversity to suit different work-life circumstances, such as university students completing studies and return to work parents. We currently employ part-time and casual workers to ensure inclusive opportunities for local employment.

Lead by Example  

Although we are a small company, we believe that by leading by example and promoting environmental sustainability we are not only ensuring the long-term viability of our business, we are also setting an example for sustainable economic growth for other small businesses in our region and broader. 

We will continue on our journey and seek new opportunities for using environmental science to safeguard natural ecosystems through the projects we support for our clients. As well as promoting innovative approaches to economic development through our business practices to enhance the relationship between our people and our environment for our biosphere and wider.

Want to learn more about who we are and our core companies values, click here.

Noose Biosphere awards winners will be announced Tuesday, 2 November at the Noosa Biosphere Gala.

Environmental Rehabilitation Meaning

Environmental rehabilitation means restoration of disturbed areas and seeks to reverse negative environmental impacts. Environmental disturbance or damage can happen at a local, landscape or region scale by many activities including mining, agriculture, urbanisation or other development. There can be various negative effects of this disturbance including biodiversity loss, soil and water contamination, and impacts on other ecosystem systems. 

The objective of environmental rehabilitation is to ensure that all environmental aspects are adequately addressed to minimise ongoing negative impacts from disturbance.

In this article we explain the following foundational topics:

Types of Environmental Rehabilitation

Why Environmental Rehabilitation is Important

What is a Rehabilitation Management Plan?

Steps for Successful Rehabilitation 

How Applied Environment & Safety Can Help

Types of Environmental Rehabilitation

Land Rehabilitation Following Disturbance

A common application of environmental rehabilitation is the restoration of disturbed land following vegetation clearing and/or soil disturbance. Rehabilitation should ensure that disturbed areas are restored, leaving a stable environment that is conducive to the establishment of landscapes characteristic to the area. 

Land Rehabilitation
Land Rehabilitation

The main aim of land disturbance rehabilitation is to provide a protective soil cover through vegetation cover. Vegetation acts to reduce dust and wind erosion, suppress weed infestations and provide protection to exposed soil surfaces from raindrop impacts and erosion processes. This then allows for further productive ecosystems on stable landforms. 

Specific Rehabilitation Requirements

Some industries, particularly those with potential significant or long term environmental impacts, will have specific rehabilitation requirements including the development and approval of specific rehabilitation management plans. 

In Queensland under the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018, the State Government has established the requirement for a life-of-mine plan (i.e. from commencement through to surrender) through a Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan.  

A Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan is used to:

  • Describe the intended post-mining land use or non-use management area
  • Outline rehabilitation techniques for achieving the post-mining land use or management measures for a non-use management area
  • Map where mining and rehabilitation activities are forecast to occur
  • Set binding (enforceable), time-based milestones for actions that achieve progressive rehabilitation or management outcomes

Progressive Rehabilitation 

Rehabilitation is an important part of a project’s environmental performance and is effectively considered as another component of operations. Rehabilitation should not be considered as something that begins towards the end of the project, but rather a process that begins in the planning phase and is progressively sequenced throughout the life of the operation.

Why Environmental Rehabilitation is Important? 


Effective rehabilitation planning and implementation can be a ‘win/win’ for Project Managers and stakeholders. When executed well, it can:

  • Reduce financial risk and liabilities
  • Reduce costs in relation to environmental bonds / security deposits
  • Improve regulator and stakeholder confidence.

Early planning can also reduce future costs by ensuring operations are conducted in a way that facilitates and maximises the efficiency of rehabilitation.

Poor rehabilitation can lead to environmental, social and economic legacy issues, which may require regulatory intervention and result in financial uncertainty, reputational damage, potential liability and difficulties obtaining approvals and finance for future projects.

What is a Rehabilitation Management Plan?

A Rehabilitation Management Plan describes the rehabilitation objectives, strategies and actions that are necessary to address rehabilitation of a disturbed area. The strategies should be designed to ensure maintenance-free rehabilitation over the long term.

For small scale disturbance or restoration projects, a Rehabilitation Management Plan may be developed as a scaled drawing showing the location, site context, management detail and management specifications of treatment areas that require submission to your local Council for approval. For larger-scale projects or specific industries, such as mining as previously mentioned, a Rehabilitation Management Plan may be required to be developed in accordance with specific legislation requirements and form part of your development approval.

Although each project may have very different requirements in regards to the development of a Rehabilitation Management Plan, there is a typical process to be followed as provided in the next section. We would recommend that you speak to one of our experienced Environmental Consultants to discuss your requirements for rehabilitation management.

The process to Develop a Rehabilitation Management Plan

The typical process followed for the planning and development of a Rehabilitation Management Plan can be seen hereunder:

Rehabilitation Management Plan
Rehabilitation Management Plan

Steps for Successful Rehabilitation 

To successfully rehabilitate disturbed areas, it is important to plan, implement and monitor. 

Here are six steps to set you up for successful rehabilitation:

  1. Plan for rehabilitation. Prior to disturbance, plan and prepare for rehabilitation including retention of vegetation, topsoil and fauna habitat.
  2. Understand your local environment and constraints. What season will rehabilitation take place? Will the disturbed area be impacted by the wider catchment area? Are the soils dispersive, saline, acidic or low in nutrients? 
  3. If your site is prone to erosion, choose the correct erosion control material or design protection around your site.
  4. Select the appropriate plant species. As part of your project’s approval, you may need replant native vegetation species. Sometimes you will need to return a vegetated cover to stop erosion.
  5. Install your erosion control, seeds and plants properly. Make sure your contractors or ground staff do not blast tubestock out of the ground with high pressure water. Ensure your erosion control is properly installed. Always ask an expert if you are unsure about the ‘right’ way to do something.
  6. Inspect and maintain. Plants may die, some seeds might not germinate or erosion control might need maintenance. It is important to do regular inspections to fix these problems as they arise. The longer you leave these issues the more difficult they might become to remediate.

How Applied Environment & Safety Can Help

Applied Environment & Safety have supported projects through to rehabilitation. For the TransGrid Wagga Wagga to Tumut transmission line rebuild project, substantial earthworks were required to establish safe access and construction work areas. These large-scale disturbed areas were monitored and managed from construction through to rehabilitation. 

Planning and early engagement with earthmoving contractors ensured valuable topsoils and vegetation were managed appropriately for reuse in rehabilitation. Other rehabilitation controls included erosion and sediment controls; topsoil stockpiling and management; and seeding to promote vegetation growth and ground stabilisation.

For more information on the Projects that we have supported, see our Projects Page.

An Environmental Management Plan or EMP is a key tool to ensuring appropriate management practices are implemented during your project or operations. An effectively implemented EMP will ensure compliance with legislation and approval conditions as well as implementing best practice environmental management.

An EMP describes how your project or operations may impact on the environment and sets commitments on how these impacts will be avoided, minimised and managed so that they are environmentally acceptable.

This article details the key requirements of developing an EMP and will cover the following topics:

What is an Environmental Management Plan? 

What goes in an Environmental Management Plan? 

Key Components of an EMP 

Example of a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)

Benefits of an Environmental Management Plan 

What is an Environmental Management Plan? 

An Environment Management Plan is a site or project-specific plan developed to ensure that appropriate environmental management practices are followed during construction and/or operations. An EMP is a guidance document used to plan, implement, measure and achieve compliance with the environmental protection and mitigation requirements. These compliance requirements include relevant legislation, project-specific approvals and other stakeholder requirements.

After being developed, the EMP may be required to be submitted to a regulator, client or other interested parties for approval. When it has been approved for the works, it becomes a compliance document required to be implemented by all management, workers, contractors and subcontractors. Therefore, the EMP should be developed to ensure that all personnel can understand the potential environmental risks, and implement the controls to manage these risks.

To ensure that the EMP is effectively managing environmental risks, the Plan should specify how management measures will be monitored and reviewed. This should include the methodology, frequency and duration of monitoring and review activities. It should also include triggers under which corrective actions are taken.

What goes in an Environmental Management Plan? 

The size and the complexity of a project will influence how the EMP is developed, that is the format of the plan and level of information that is included. 

For small projects, such as projects small in area with no complex environmental issues, the structure of the EMP may be organised into checklists or tables. For large projects, such as multiple sites and/or complex environmental issues, multiple plans or tables may be required based on each stage; each site or operation; and/or environmental issues.

In simple terms, the main focus of an EMP is the development of a plan that is specific to the project or operations and outlines:

  • Environmental issues
  • Potential outcome of these issues
  • How these issues will be managed through monitoring and implementation

In accordance with the Australian Government Environmental Management Plan Guidelines (2014) an EMP should be:

  • Balanced, objective and concise
  • Written in a way that is easily understood by other parties
  • Clearly present how conclusions about risks have been reached
  • Ensure responsibility for the content and commitments contained in the plan
  • State any limitations or uncertainties that apply, or should apply, to the use of the information in the EMP

Key Components of an EMP 

Described below are the four key components of an Environmental Management Plan:

1.    Background

This section sets the context of the project and the management plan. This typically includes the following information:

Introduction: a brief description of the project’s background.

Project Description: define the nature and scope of the project which may include location, activities and timing/scheduling.

Objectives: this relates to the overall project and environmental best practices.

Environmental Policy: overarching environmental commitments.

2.    Environmental Management

This section sets the requirements and processes for implementing the management plan and includes:

Environmental Management Structure and Responsibility: organisational structure responsible for environmental management for the project.

Approvals and Regulation Requirements: tables or lists of relevant legislation, conditions of approvals or consent, and any other requirements such as stakeholder agreements, environmental management system requirements, etc.

Reporting: description of reporting requirements including under legislation, construction monitoring, non-compliance and auditing.

Environmental Training: both general environmental awareness training and training about their responsibilities under the EMP.

Emergency Contacts and Response: procedures to be followed in the event of an environmental emergency.

3.    Implementation

The section identifies the environmental risks of the project and how they will be managed. This typically includes the following steps:

  1. List all of the activities to be undertaken
  2. Identify the actual and potential environmental impacts associated with each of the activities
  3. Risk assess each of the environmental impacts to determine significant impacts
  4. Determine environmental management controls and monitoring to prevent or minimise environmental impacts

Further information is provided in the next section regarding the content of this Implementation section.

4.    Monitor and Review

An EMP is not static. It is a working document that requires reviews and amendments during the life of the project. This section should document how the environmental management activities will be monitored and reviewed to ensure the controls are effective and applicable to the project activities.

Download: Key Components of an Environmental Management Plan (PDF)

Example of a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)

For small projects or during the construction phase of a project, the ‘Implementation’ section of the Plan may be organised using an issues-based format. The issues-based format involves organising the environmental impacts, management activities and controls information under each identified environmental issue. This could be written as tables, separate sections of the Plan or separate Sub-plans.

The typical environmental issues included in a Construction Environmental Management Plan:

  • Erosion and sedimentation
  • Water quality
  • Groundwater
  • Air quality
  • Flora and fauna
  • Rehabilitation
  • Indigenous heritage
  • Non-indigenous heritage
  • Noise and vibration
  • Waste
  • Hazardous materials
  • Traffic.

For large projects carried out over extended periods, the ‘Implementation’ section of the EMP may be developed using a stage-based format. This involves documenting the environmental issues and control measures for each stage of a project. For example, the planning and design stage, the construction stage and the operational stage. Typically these stages would be developed as separate plans.

Here is a project example we recently completed for a road embankment stabilisation project. We developed the Construction Environment Management Plan and provided implementation support to PCA Ground Engineering.

Download: Environmental Management Plan Key Factors Checklist (PDF)

Benefits of an Environmental Management Plan 

An Environment Management Plan (EMP) identifies the actual and potential environmental risks that may be caused by the project or operation and identifies controls to manage these risks before they result in environmental harm.

An EMP is a valuable tool to:

  • Define who, what, where and when environmental management and mitigation measures are to be implemented
  • Provide stakeholders, including government agencies, contractors and other interested parties, with better insight and control over the environmental aspects
  • Demonstrate due diligence  

Overall, an EMP that has been specifically developed for your project or operations is key to ensuring your environmental risks are identified and appropriate management practices implemented. A well developed and effectively implemented EMP will ensure compliance with your regulatory requirements as well as implementing best practice environmental management.

If you are looking for an EMP for your project, contact us to have one of our specialists support your request.

Applied Environment & Safety are proud to be awarded 3-Star Partnership with the CCIQ ecoBiz program again this year. We have been active participants in the ecoBiz program and a recognised Star Partner for over five years. Through this program, we have been implementing sustainable business practices based on reducing energy and water use, and waste minimisation. 

CCIQ ecoBiz is a free program, funded by the Queensland Government, that helps businesses save money by reducing energy, water and waste. ecoBiz has been a very successful program working with thousands of Queensland businesses.

Given that our business operates predominantly either from our home office or client locations, our ecoBiz assessment was completed on a qualitative assessment of energy, water and waste savings. 

Our achievements for 2020-21 in regards to energy, water and waste are:

Energy

  • Solar panels installed on home office in December 2020
  • Commenced Carbon Neutral certification process through Climate Active in September 2020
  • Offset 35 tonnes of carbon, more than double our 2020 carbon emissions in June 2021
  • Certified as Carbon Neutral in July 2021

Water

  • Ongoing member of local catchment group
  • Implemented rehabilitation of council verge bushland at home office including removal of weeds, replanting native plants and mulching as waterwise garden

Waste

  • Ongoing implementation of the Containers for Change Refund Scheme, through our business and our clients with more than 4,000 cans/bottles have been donated so far
  • Keep Cups and other reusable containers utilised by employees whilst travelling
  • Implemented office clean-up including recycling or donation of disused electronic equipment

As a result of Applied Environment & Safety energy initiatives, we have been awarded a 3-Star ecoBiz partnership for energy, water and waste. Our assessment was based on our business practices and behaviours which demonstrate implementation of business sustainability, and minimisation of our environmental footprint. 

Our sustainable business initiatives for 2021-2022 are:

Energy

  • Continue our Carbon Neutral certification 
  • Focus business development on Queensland work to reduce travel and carbon emissions. Aim to increase local work by 10%

Water

  • Set-up water wise vegetable and herb garden at home office including use of drip irrigation and mulching
  • Participate in catchment group activities such as clean-up day

Waste

  • Ongoing implementation of Containers for Change Refund Scheme
  • Identify options for reducing paper waste such as use of tablets or phone apps rather than paper documents
  • Implement further office waste separation and disposal such as batteries and printer cartridges

We will keep you updated on the progress of these initiatives. Tracking of our carbon offsets, container recycling and donations are reported on our website News feed.

Applied Environment & Safety provided construction environment management plan and inspection support to PCA Ground Engineering during the road embankment stabilisation project at Sunrise Beach, Noosa, Queensland. Geotechnical investigations detected evidence of slope instability within the parkland adjacent to the road. This was due to the loose sandy material and the steep topography of the site. Works were required to stabilise the bank and prevent damage to the road.

The scope of the project required stabilisation of the slope with minimal impact to the existing vegetated slope and surrounding areas. The works are vital to maintaining the long-term serviceability of the road and drainage infrastructure at this location. The works included:

– Slope stabilisation

– Revegetation following stabilisation

– Repairs to the stormwater culvert

Our role on this project was to provide technical environmental support. This included the development of a construction Environment Management Plan; Sediment and Erosion Control Plan; and Rehabilitation Plan. Then during construction, we undertook inspections of the works to ensure compliance with the controls for each of the environmental aspects. The environmental aspects of the project included:

– Erosion and sediment control

– Biosecurity management 

– Waste management

– Rehabilitation

We believe in using our expertise and knowledge to add value and improve project outcomes for our clients. We use our extensive construction project knowledge to identify environmental risks and provide practical solutions.

Environmental controls were effectively implemented by PCA Ground Engineering during this project. We believe in working closely with our clients to build supportive relationships. By working together, we have been able to ensure environmental risks were mitigated during this project.

Applied Environment & Safety is proud to announce our certification as a certified carbon neutral company through Climate Active. Applied Environment & Safety joins a growing network of organisations committed to reducing their environmental impact. Achieving a carbon neutral operating status.

Our carbon neutral status is based on a certification process that involves five key steps.

  1. Create an emissions boundary

Defining the scope of our carbon emissions to be measured. What emissions are relevant and reasonably accountable for our business operations? 

  1. Calculate annual carbon emissions

Collect data and undertake verification to quantify our annual carbon emissions. How do we best record our emissions within our emissions boundary?  

  1. Set an emissions reductions strategy

Set targeted, measurable carbon reduction strategies based on our main emissions contributors. How can we reduce our emissions in the future?

  1. Offset emissions

Purchasing of carbon offsets in reforestation and re-planting projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere equivalent to the amount created by our operations. How much carbon do we need to offset to achieve net zero emissions? 

  1. Ongoing certification and improvement 

Ensuring ongoing Climate Active certification and review of performance against our emissions reduction targets and opportunities for further reductions. Are we meeting our reduction goals and how can we further reduce our emissions?

Our Carbon Neutral Journey

Our journey began in 2019 while reflecting upon our business operations and environmental impacts. Due to the nature of our service-based operations, we concluded that our environmental impact would best be quantified and mitigated through a reduction of our carbon footprint. 

Setting our Emissions Boundary

The first step to achieving our carbon neutral status involved establishing an ‘emissions boundary’, essentially identifying our emissions sources. We worked closely with Sustainable Business Consultants a registered Climate Active consultant to form our emissions boundary.

To identify our emissions sources, we analysed each aspect of our business operations. Firstly, our office based operations, which revealed several emissions sources. These sources were primarily relating to energy consumption such as lighting, heating and cooling, and electronics. Secondly, working from our client’s workplaces and construction sites, which is where our largest emissions are generated. This is predominantly due to flights and other transport.

Calculating our Carbon Emissions

Once our emissions boundary had been set, we then calculated our total annual carbon emissions for our base year in 2020. We used records to calculate our emissions including; flight, accommodation itineraries, energy usage records, vehicle logbooks, ride share, public transport logs, waste generation data and more. To ensure accuracy for our office emissions, we considered time spent at each location. Emissions that were not able to quantify, for example, water usage. These were included a 5% uplift on our overall emissions to ensure these were accounted for in our base year.    

With our base year emissions data calculated, we then had our data verified by an independent third-party consultant (Sustainable Business Consultants) to confirm our calculations were accurate. Once confirmed, we had our 2020 base year carbon emissions total.

Our Emissions Reduction Strategy 

By simply understanding our carbon emission sources we were then able to plan our future reduction strategy. We are committed to reducing our future emissions meeting specific targets based on our primary emission sources. This includes increasing local business opportunities, therefore reducing travel & flight related emissions, direct offsets for flights, solar energy production, and utilising other carbon neutral products/services where possible.  

Offsetting our Carbon Emissions 

After our base year carbon emissions had been calculated and verified, we sought to offset our emissions by supporting Australian reforestation & re-planting projects. This would help remove our carbon contributions from the atmosphere. 

Carbon Neutral
Supporting Carbon Neutral

Partnering with Carbon Neutral, Applied Environment & Safety now proudly supports the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor project, a large-scale reforestation and habitat restoration project in Western Australia. The project involves reforestation of degraded land by revegetating the landscape with native trees and shrubs. Therefore, encouraging wildlife to return while at the same time removing carbon from the atmosphere. The project seeks to create a 200km green corridor reconnecting remnant vegetation with 12 nature reserves across 10,000 km2.

Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Project
Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Project

Our current contributions to the project enable the offset of 35 tonnes of carbon; more than double our 2020 annual emissions.

Climate Active Certification 

We have now successfully established our emissions boundary, calculated our base year emissions, offset our emissions, and set a future emissions reduction strategy. The final step in our carbon neutral journey was to submit and formally join the Climate Active network to become a certified carbon neutral company.

Climate Active - Carbon Neutral - Organisation
Climate Active – Carbon Neutral – Organisation

Climate Active is an Australian Government initiative and organisation that certifies businesses, products, services and events as carbon neutral. By achieving Climate Active certification, we join a collective group of companies committed to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions and climate change impacts.

What does Carbon Neutral really mean for us?

We believe in leading by example and promoting environmental sustainability. Now operating as a carbon neutral organisation, this further demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability. Our Climate Active certification ensures we are accountable for our carbon footprint and has allowed us to formalise our sustainability goals.

Although our emissions are relatively low, we recognise the value of doing our part to offset our carbon footprint. We are proud to part of a collective group of organisations dedicated to climate solutions for our future.  

Further following our Climate Active accreditation; our goal is to continually improve our operations and work toward our carbon emissions reduction strategy. We seek to maintain our carbon neutral status and look forward to our continued involvement in carbon offsetting, reforestation, and biodiversity projects. 

Our clients can have confidence that by working with us, they are supporting our carbon neutral operations and having a net zero impact on climate change. 

For more details on our carbon neutral journey including our future emissions reduction strategy; view our Climate Active Public Disclosure Statement.

Become a Certified Carbon Neutral Company

Are you considering starting your own journey toward becoming a certified carbon neutral company? Interested, inspired, or wondering where to begin? Visit the Climate Active website or chat to us today about our journey.

When we talk about effective workplace health and safety management systems, we often talk about workplace hazards and risks. More specifically, how we can achieve proactive hazard identification followed by successful risk management.

So, what is hazard identification and risk management, how do we go about it, and why is it important in our workplace?

In this article, we answer these questions along with other common queries regarding hazard identification and risk management in the workplace.

What is a Hazard? What is a Risk?

A hazard is defined by Safe Work Australia as “a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person“. A risk is defined as “the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard“.

For example, boiling water in a saucepan on a kitchen cooktop is a hazard, as it has the potential to harm a person. The risk associated with this hazard is being burned, as this may occur if you are exposed to the hazard. Another common example of a hazard in the workplace is lifting heavy boxes (manual handling), the associated risks may include slips, trips or falls, or muscle sprains and strains while undertaking the manual handling (being exposed to the hazard). 

With an understanding of what hazards and risks are, we can now start to understand the hazard identification and risk management process.    

What is Risk Management?

The overall risk management process involves identifying hazards, assessing the risks associated with the hazard, implementing controls to eliminate or lower the risks then reviewing and maintaining the controls. We will now investigate each step of this process further.

Four Steps of Hazard Identification and Risk Management

Four Steps of Hazard Identification and Risk Management Process
Steps of the hazard identification and risk management process

What is Hazard Identification?

Hazard identification in the workplace is the first important step in understanding your risks and implementing controls, where necessary. 

Hazard identification is best undertaken as a multi-faceted approach using a range of methods including the following:

1. Risk Assessment Workshops

Engage with management, staff, key stakeholders, etc. through collaborative workshops to discuss operations and tasks to identify hazards and assess risks.

2. Worker and Employee Consultation

Encourage staff feedback. Critically important for larger businesses where management cannot oversee all aspects of work. Front line workers are a great asset for identifying and reporting hazards.   

3. Workplace Inspections and Audits

Regular workplace inspections and audits help to reveal any new or changed workplace tasks or operations which may result in additional or changed hazards.

4. Incident Reporting and Review

Meticulous incident reporting and review highlights any key contributing hazards.  

5. Review of Operators Manuals and Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Some hazards can be already identified on documents such as machinery, plant or vehicle operational manuals, or hazardous substances and dangerous goods SDS.

What are the types of Hazards?

Different hazards will be identified within your workplace depending on the nature and location of your operations. Hazards can be categorised into the following types:

Physical

Hazards that are physical conditions or factors within the workplace that can adversely impact health and safety. Examples include heat exposure, working at heights, working in confined spaces.

Biological

Hazards that may pose a biological threat to human health. Examples include diseases or viruses transmitted through human, animal, or plant matter.

Chemical

Hazardous chemicals which pose a human health risk if not correctly managed. Examples include flammable liquids, toxins or carcinogens.

Ergonomical

Hazards that are physical factors in the work environment that may cause musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. Examples include poor office and equipment layouts, workstation design.

Psychological

Hazards that are factors or aspects of work that have the potential to cause psychological harm. Examples include bullying, sexual harassment and fatigue.

What is the Aim of Hazard Identification?

Hazard identification is a crucial part in your overall risk management process. It provides a stocktake of all foreseeable and anticipated hazards that may arise in the workplace during typical operations as well as in an emergency situation. 

A thorough hazard identification process sets the foundations for targeted risk assessments, implementation of controls and overall management of risk for your operations.   

What is a Risk Assessment?

Assessing risks is the second step of the risk management process and is directly informed by the hazard identification stage. Risk assessment involves analysing each hazard to understand the related risks and the nature of harm that could be caused. A risk assessment should detail the severity of the risk (how serious are the consequences), as well as the likelihood of the risk resulting in injury or harm. Let’s look at our example of lifting heavy boxes again…

Heavy boxes (the hazard) are required to be moved from a removalist truck into a house. Staff moving the boxes will be exposed to the hazard while they are moving them, engaging in manual handling. During manual handling, there is a risk of muscle strains or sprains. 

There are various risk assessment matrices and tools to determine risk ratings, however for this example, let’s keep it simple. So we may determine the severity of the risk for a muscle strain as low-medium as it is typically not associated with a long-term disabling injury, however, it may require medical attention. The likelihood of this occurring during manual handling we might determine as high (probable). Based on our risk assessment we have now identified a highly probable risk with a low-medium severity rating.

Now we have identified and assessed our risk, let’s look at implementing controls.

How to Control Risks in the Workplace

Implementing controls can lower the severity or likelihood of the risk resulting in injury or harm. By lowering the severity and likelihood, the overall risk is reduced or may be eliminated. To determine effective and appropriate controls, the hierarchy of controls is used.

The hierarchy of controls outlines the most effective controls in reducing risk through to the least effective controls. Eliminating or removing the hazard is the highest level of control. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, the risk associated with the hazard can be lowered through isolation, substitution or engineering controls. Then, the risk of the hazard can be lowered using administrative controls. Lastly, personal protective equipment can be used to reduce the risk of harm to workers. Let’s look at our manual handling example again.

We cannot eliminate the hazard as moving heavy boxes is a key task for removalists. Engineering controls in the form of mechanical aid could be implemented such as use of pallet jack or trolley where possible. If engineering, isolation or substitution controls are not feasible, we could implement an administrative control, being a safe manual handling procedure and training for staff. A combination of controls may be required to lower the overall risk of the hazard.

Review and Maintain Control Measures

It is important to regularly review your controls to ensure their effectiveness. There are two main components to consider when reviewing your control measures. 

First, when you will review your controls. Managing hazards and risks is an ongoing process, so you should be reviewing your control measures regularly. A schedule should set for when the reviews will happen. How frequently these reviews are scheduled will depend on the nature of your organisation. For example, if your company deals with numerous high risks, your control measures should be reviewed more frequently.

In addition to a review schedule, your organisation’s work health and safety plan should include triggers that indicate when a risk review is required. By having these outlined, it will ensure that measures are reviewed in advance of your schedule if necessary. Risk control measures would be reviewed when:

  • The control measure is not working such as when someone is injured or experiences a ‘near miss’
  • Workplace layouts or practices are changed
  • New equipment, materials or work processes are introduced
  • A new problem is identified
  • Audits, inspections or consultation with identify that a review is necessary

Why is Risk Management Important for Your Organisation?

Now that we have an understanding of hazard identification and risk management, what are the benefits to your organisation?

All organisations have a legal responsibility in Australia to provide a safe work environment. Identifying hazards is the first step in removing or mitigating risks, and preventing work-related injuries or fatalities.

Additionally, being a responsible employer by taking an active role in worker safety by reducing hazards will reflect better on your company both in the market and community.

Need help with your hazard identification and risk management? Our team are skilled in a range of industries and operations, and would be happy to discuss how we can best help, contact us should you need support.

This article focuses on the key elements of environmental audits & inspections and the benefits these processes have on your operations.

For management plans and systems to be effective, they must be integrated into your operations. The purpose of environmental audits and inspections is to assess your management systems to determine if they are effectively managing risks to the environment, as well as identify opportunities for improvement. Evaluation of the implementation of your management processes leads to reduced risks and continuous improvement. 

Environmental audit meaning defined

An environmental audit is a systematic, independent and documented process for determining whether management systems and processes effectively address specific risks and are being implemented in accordance with internal and external requirements. 

The objective of an environmental audit is to assess operations to identify strengths and weaknesses, determine effectiveness and compliance, and measure progress. This may be in relation to:

  • Compliance with relevant statutory and best practice requirements
  • Implementation of policies, standards and procedures
  • Management control of environmental practices
  • Staff awareness of risks and controls
  • Maintaining accreditation or other external stakeholder requirements
  • Exploring improvement opportunities

An environmental audit should provide a fair and true reflection of the management system by obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively against audit criteria.

How are environmental audits important to your operations? 

Environmental auditing has a critical role to play in ensuring that organisations fulfil their commitments to environmental management and performance. Audits can provide key information to management on areas of risk, and progress towards strategic objectives and targets.

Audits enable management to understand exactly what is happening within the organisation and to check the operation (or otherwise) of plans, systems and procedures. Undertaking regular environmental audits is a proactive measure to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations. Indeed, evidence suggests that environmental audits have a valuable role to play, encouraging systematic incorporation of environmental perspectives into many aspects of overall operations, helping to trigger new awareness and priorities in policies and practices.

Environmental auditing can help reveal the likely weaknesses of an organisation’s processes, therefore reducing the risk of unexpected events. A properly prepared and conducted environmental audit has great benefits and adds value to an organisation that is committed to act on the results.

Environmental Compliance

Environmental compliance means conforming with relevant environmental laws, regulations, standards and other requirements. The importance of being environmentally compliant isn’t just about being green, it is essential to ensuring the success of your operations by limiting your exposure to penalties and public scrutiny as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

An environmental audit can be used to investigate the compliance status your operations and/or the extent of your environmental liability. This process is a systematic evaluation focusing on current operations and management procedures and processes. Assurance through auditing verification and reporting programs can be used to identify gaps and limitations as well as allocate ownership and accountability to the process of implementing environmental compliance for your operations.

Environmental Audits vs Inspections

An environmental audit evaluates the compliance of management systems and practices within an organisation with regulations, internal policies or other compliance drivers. While an environmental inspection looks for risks and implementation of controls for a specific operation.

Given that the goal of an environmental audit is to assess overall compliance of processes, they are typically performed less frequently than inspections. Audits are typically conducted by a third-party to the site being audited. This could be an auditor from another company site or an auditor completely external to the company. 

Inspections are typically the reoccurring completion of checklists by operational personnel, such as Site Managers or Environmental Advisors. Inspections can be thought of as compliance tasks with checklists. For example, an inspection can be used to determine if specific controls are being implemented effectively.

Types of Environmental Audits

In general, there are three types of environmental audits:

System audits: these audits check that your system is compliant with standards or guidelines that your system has been developed in accordance with such as ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems. These audits check that all policies, procedures and other required documented information is available and up to date.  

Operational audits: these audits check if you are doing what you say you are doing. Your system audits should confirm that the correct procedures have been developed, however these operational audits confirm you are actually implementing them.

Compliance audits: Sometimes called legal audits. These audits should check that you are complying with all the legislation and other requirements that are applicable to your operations. They should cover all of your activities, products and services and all your legal requirements.

Use for Environmental Inspections

An inspection looks for compliance with controls as well as any new or changed risks and poor practices. An environmental inspection could be used to:

  • Observe work practices to identify the effectiveness of controls
  • Examine whether construction or operations present any environmental risks
  • Check whether controls and other management practices are effective

5 Step Environmental Audit Process

5 Step Environmental Audit Process
5 Step Environmental Audit Process

The main steps of an environmental audit are detailed below.

Step 1: Plan the Audit

The first step in the environmental audit is to establish and document the scope and terms of reference. The scope could include one or more sites or specific operations to be audited. While the terms of reference is the reason for the audit such as ISO 14001 certification or compliance with specific legislation requirements.

Step 2: Prepare for the Audit 

An environmental audit guidance tool must be prepared for each audit activity. The audit guidance tool may be in the format of a checklist, list of interview questions, marked-up procedures, flow charts or mind maps. 

Download – Environmental Audit Template

An audit plan should also be developed. The audit plan is used to schedule activities and meetings with auditees within each audit, including the opening meeting and interviews.

Step 3: Conduct the Audit

Prior to conducting the audit, all relevant personnel in the audit team should meet to discuss the scope of the audit, proposed audit agenda, audit objectives, any personnel that need to be contacted or interviewed, and a tentative time to hold the closing meeting.

Step 4: Develop an Audit Report or Action Plan

The environmental audit team needs to prepare a report based on all the objective evidence that is collected during the audit. The audit report should be completed based on agreed content in the closing meeting.

Step 5: Audit Follow-Up

Following the completion of the audit, actions to close out any non-conformances or suggested improvements should be implemented and tracked. This can be done separately or as part of the audit report. 

Our 5 Tips for Preparing for an Environmental Audit

There are many benefits of undertaking and participating in environmental audits. This includes identifying and preventing risks, determining which processes are working well, and looking for opportunities for improvement.

These are our five tips for getting the most out of your environmental audit:

1. Understand what is being audited. It is your licence or approval requirements? Or a particular aspect of your environmental management system or operations? Or recertification of your management system? If you are unclear, then clarify with the auditor so that you can be prepared for the audit.

2. Know the audit schedule. Otherwise, ask the auditor for the schedule so again you can be prepared.

3. Make sure worksites are clean and tidy. As an auditor walking into a tidy and well-maintained work area, you are instantly impressed and this starts the audit off on the right foot.

4. Be cooperative. An environmental auditor is there to help you. They are a fresh pair of eyes to notice something that you have overlooked and provide suggestions to improve management processes. Use this to your advantage by assisting to determine suitable solutions to improve your operations.

5. Closeout any non-conformances or improvements as soon as possible. This will provide the greatest benefit to your operations as well as preventing lingering items on your To-Do list.

How Can We Help?

If your project is in need of an environmental audit & inspection, our team are here to help. With vast experience in a wide range of industries, we are equipped to support your project needs. Contact us with your request.