Preparing and delivering a site based environmental induction takes specific skills and knowledge. It may seem like a fairly simple process however many people get it wrong or miss the point. Most site based environmental inductions are too long, not interactive and generally not understood by the audience. This means poor outcomes in regards to communicating with your employees and contractors about the environmental issues and controls of your business or project.

Why is it important to prepare great site based environmental inductions

These inductions are often the primary time you have with your staff and contractors to share information on approvals and key environmental risks and sensitivities. As well as mitigation and management strategies to be implemented and how to respond in the event of an environmental hazard or incident.

It’s a lot of information to share!

To help, we’ve pulled together our top five tips for creating a site based environmental induction that will engage and educate your audience.

Five Tips

1. Keep it short and simpleIt is 6:30am on a brisk winter morning and you are delivering an induction to the newbies onsite. They are tired, anxious and just wanting to get through their first day of work. Keep your induction simple, an appropriate length and targeted to your audience including their specific role and responsibilities.
2. Use appropriate languageAvoid acronyms, technical terms and references that your audience will not know or understand. It may seem appropriate to quote all relevant legislation and hierarchy of documents for the business or project however this will bore your average operator. Rather than quoting legislative requirements, use more interactive communication such as saying “did you know that we all have a responsibility in regards to protecting the environment?” and then discuss the relevant requirements.
3. Use pictures and other promptersWe all know when we have attended an amazing presentation from a gifted speaker that uses no slides or other props to deliver a strong message. Try to use this method to deliver your induction and engage with your participants rather than just reading presentation slides.
4. Make it interactiveLet your audience do some of the work. Asking questions can gauge the level on pre-existing knowledge you audience already has and it keeps them engaged throughout the induction. Most importantly, asking questions and getting feedback will provide confirmation that your audience understands the content.
5. Keep it up to dateThere’s nothing worse than a presentation that has been obviously cut together from a previous business or project or has outdated or irrelevant information. Typically this will be picked up by your listeners and you will lose all credibility.

After the site based environmental induction

The induction is not the only time you have to communicate environmental information to staff and contractors. To reinforce important environmental risks, such as exclusion zones, or provide more detail on processes, such as the spill response procedure, additional tools like environmental alerts and toolbox talks can be used to support environmental education.

When you’re following our tips and developing a concise site based environmental induction, take note of the key topics that could benefit from further explanation. This will be your prompt to detail and develop a suite of supporting information materials. These materials can be placed up on noticeboards in key areas of the workplace, shared at toolbox talks or distributed in work packs.

Do you need assistance?

We have extensive experience in the development and delivery of environmental inductions and training materials.

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

The team at Applied Environment & Safety includes four very important members who provide all day support to our ‘human’ team, well…….. when they’re not snoozing.

Lottie, Zeena, Milly and Peanut are the canine companions to our team members Melanie, Lachlan and Allison.

Lottie the Frenchie and Zeena the Frug (Frenchie x Pug) love playing frisbee, swimming in the river and snoozing together.

Milly the Australian Shepherd loves gardening, playing at the beach and herding sheep.

Peanut the Kelpie Cross loves playing with Turtle (her stuffed toy), snoozing in the sun and snacks.

They’re usually close by whilst we’re working from home and are eagerly waiting for us to return home safely when we’re working away on project sites.

Applied Environment & Safety have recently reviewed and updated our Health, Safety and Environmental management system to include quality. This is part of our routine review and update of the system. Reviews of management systems are a key component of the continuous improvement cycle.

Further to our management system review and update, we have updated this article to include information on quality management systems, reflecting the update in the Applied Environment & Safety management system.

This article provides the perfect introduction to best understand management systems, covering the following key topics:

  • What are management systems;
  • What are the typical elements of a management system;
  • How to ensure your management system is effective;
  • Key management system standards you should know:
    • ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental management systems;
    • ISO 45001:2018 – Occupational health and safety management systems;
    • ISO 9001:2015 – Quality management systems;
  • Integrated management systems; and
  • Why are management systems important.

What are management systems

A management system is the way in which a business manages the interrelated parts of its operations in order to achieve its objectives. These objectives can relate to a number of different business aspects including health and safety, environmental performance, product or service quality, operational efficiency and many more.

The level of complexity of the management system will depend on business specific context. For some businesses, especially smaller ones, it may simply mean having strong leadership from the business owner, providing a clear definition of what is expected from each individual employee and how they contribute to the overall organisational objectives, without the need for extensive documentation. More complex businesses operating, for example, in highly regulated sectors, may need extensive and detailed documentation and controls in order to fulfil their legal obligations and meet their organisational objectives.

What are the typical elements of a management system

Management systems are tools for managing complexity. They are about setting goals and considering organisational conditions, deriving actions and measures from the goals, and reliably completing tasks to achieve the goals through clear processes and responsibilities.

Management systems are made up of a series of interconnected elements that drive continual improvement of a particular discipline or aspect of an organisation such as safety, quality and environment. These elements all serve to support the overarching purpose of the system which is to drive continual improvement toward a policy, vision or value expectation.

In order to deliver continual improvement consistently across an organisation, measures are required that affect all areas – from top management to trainees. Management systems, therefore are typically based on a four-phase cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

Management Systems Plan Do Check Act
Four-phase cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act

Here are the phases of the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle explained in simple terms:

1. Plan
The first step to any system planning or process improvement is to figure out what you need to do. Like any project plan, this includes a variety of information, such as:
– Objectives and success metrics;
– Deliverables or end result;
– Stakeholders;
– Timeline; and
– Any relevant risks or constraints.
2. Do
Once you have a plan, the next step is to put it into action and try it out. We would suggest implementing your plan on a small scale to ensure it works.
3. Check
Review the implementation of the Do phase to ensure everything went according to your plan. More likely than not, you will identify things to improve on during the Do phase. After all, it is called the continuous improvement cycle and the Check phase is critical to finding these small things before they get too big and problematic.
4. Act
After reviewing, move to the Act phase, which includes rolling out the full plan or process improvement. Don’t forget that this is a cycle, if you need to, return to the Plan phase to continuously improve your project or processes.

How do I ensure my management system is effective

One of the best ways to ensure that you management system is effective with all the applicable processes is to refer to a standard set of requirements. Management system standards (MSS) are codes, guidelines or processes used by an business to formalise, systematise and legitimise their activities or tasks.

MSS can improve business performance by specifying repeatable steps that can be implemented to achieve goals and objectives. As well as create an organisational culture that engages in a continuous self-evaluation, correction and improvement through employee awareness and management leadership and commitment.

Key management system standards (MSS) you should know

There are internationally recognised standards for management systems including ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety). These standards define processes, procedures and records requirement for a successful management system.

These management systems can be the subject of ISO certification. A summary of the key MSS are outlined below.

ISO 9001:2015 Quality management system

ISO 9001:2015 sets out the criteria and requirements for establishing, maintaining and continually improving a system that helps businesses consistently deliver services or products that meet customer requirements and complies with applicable regulations. The standard places a strong emphasis on risk based thinking and context analysis as well as the need for businesses to regularly review and update their quality management system to ensure it remains effective and is aligned with strategic objectives.

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems

ISO 14001:2015 helps businesses achieve the intended outcomes of their environmental management. This includes enhancement of environmental performance, fulfilment of compliance obligations and achievement of environmental sustainability objectives.

ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems

ISO 45001:2018 provides a systematic approach to managing health and safety in the workplace. The standard helps businesses 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 illnesses, as well as how to proactively improve workplace health and safety performance.

Integrated management systems

An integrated management system (IMS) is a single system designed to manage multiple aspects of a businesses operations in line with multiple standards such as quality, environment and health and safety management. Ultimately, quality, environment and health and safety control have many common points, and all work towards the goal of making businesses more effective and efficient. Therefore these systems can be integrated to minimise duplication or creating extra work for staff.

In practice, an IMS involves merging existing formal systems and implementing specific best practices business wide.

Why are management systems important

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 management system include:

  • More efficient use of resources and improved financial performance;
  • Improved risk management and protection of people and the environment;
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory and best practice obligations; and
  • Increased capability to deliver consistent and improved services and products, thereby increasing value to customers and all other stakeholders.

Do you need assistance?

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

Our experience includes:

  • Management system review and gap analysis;
  • Development of management system documentation including policies and standards;
  • Environmental management procedures;
  • Safe operating procedures;
  • Forms and checklists; and
  • Auditing of management system compliance and opportunities for improvement.

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

Recently an Applied Environment & Safety employee spotted a suspected fire ants nest in their front yard. They spotted a loose mound of soil with no entry or exit holes. This was a key fire ant nest indicator that they recalled from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program training from years ago.

The suspected nest was reported using the National Fire Ant Eradication Program’s (NFAEP) online reporting form. Two days later a crew from the NFAEP visited to confirm the nest was fire ants, take a sample of the ants, treat the nest and provide our employee with some tips on further reporting and treatment.

A couple months and a second round of treatment later, the ants are no longer present in their yard.

If you live or work in South East Queensland, keeping an eye out for fire ants is important to help eradicate fire ants from Australia. The following information on identification, reporting, treatment and training can assist in contributing to the effort.

Looking for Fire Ants

Fire ants may be small, but they can have devastating consequences on our environment, economy, human health and outdoor way of life. They can destroy crops, damage machinery, kill native flora and fauna and render backyards and parks unusable. In rare cases, fire ant stings can also lead to a severe and sometimes fatal reaction in humans.

Fire ants and their nests

Unlike other ants, fire ants are aggressive and will swarm when disturbed. They are also smaller and look a little different than you might think. Their distinguishing features are:

– Copper brown in colour with a darker abdomen;

– Measure 2 – 6 mm in size; and

– Come in a variety of sizes in the one nest.

Their nests can appear as mounds or flat patches of loose sifted soil with no obvious or exit holes. They are commonly found in warm, open areas such as:

– Lawns;

– Footpaths and driveways;

– Garden beds and piles of organic matter;

– Near water sources, including taps, dams and irrigation lines;

– Utility pits;

– Edges of cultivated land;

– Cropland post-harvest; and

– Fence lines.

When looking for fire ants, ensure you wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as boots and gloves. If you find a suspect ant or nest, use a long stick and gently prod the nest, and inspect any ants present.

Biosecurity Queensland (12 May 2023). Fire ant identification video [Video]. Youtube.
Don’t spread fire ants

Fire ants are highly mobile and adaptive, the greatest risk to spread is human-assisted movement. They disperse quite slowly on their own, but people speed them up through the movement of organic materials. If disturbed, a fire ant queen can fly up to 5 km to start a new nest and raft on water following floods and wet weather events.

The pest likes to nest in soil, baled hay, mulch, manure, quarry products, turf and potted plants. This is why people working with these materials in South East Queensland, at home or at work, should follow the fire ant biosecurity zones and movement restrictions in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016. Penalties can apply to individuals or companies found to move the pest.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, all Queenslanders have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to manage any biosecurity risks and threats:

– Under their control;

– That they know about; and

– That they are expected to know about.

Fire ant biosecurity zones are in place to help prevent fire ants from spreading through human-assisted movement.

Reporting Fire Ants

Known or suspected ants can be reported to the NFAEP by calling 13 25 23 or by completing their online reporting form.

Find out more information here: Reporting process | National Fire Ant Eradication Program (

Fire Ant Treatments

Eradicating fire ants requires a whole-of-community approach. This includes homeowners and tenants, businesses and all levels of government. It is a legal requirement under the Biosecurity Act 2014 for everyone to take all reasonable steps to stop fire ants from spreading. This starts with reporting fire ants within 24 hours of finding them.

More details on treatment options for residential, business and industry and schools and sports grounds can be found here: Treat | National Fire Ant Eradication Program (

Fire Ant Training

The NFAEP have created free self-paced online courses to support general residents, community groups, tradespeople who work outdoors, school staff and primary producers in learning more about fire ants and how to manage them. The training can be completed on a computer, laptop or mobile device. There are three specific training packages available:

1. Fire ant training for residents;

2. Fire ant training for workplaces; and

3. Fire ant training for pest managers.

For more information visit the National Fire Ant Eradication Program website.

Business sustainability is increasingly important with organisations committing to net zero targets and other environmental goals; consumers demanding sustainable products; and corporations seeking ‘green’ supply chains. Getting ahead in implementing sustainable practices can set businesses apart from their competition. As well as boost their efficiency, improve their ability to withstand challenges, and benefit their community and the environment.

Business sustainability goes beyond short-term profit maximisation. It embraces a broader perspective that encompasses environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic resilience. Business sustainability also recognises that businesses operate within a larger ecosystem and community. This includes having a responsibility to minimise their negative impacts on the environment, society, and stakeholders while maximising positive contributions.

Business Chamber Queensland have recently released their Advancing Business Sustainability: A Sustainability Maturity Assessment of Queensland Business Report. This Report outlines current trends in sustainability, the present motivations Queensland businesses have towards sustainability, and an understanding of the barriers in progressing the sustainability maturity of Queensland businesses.

What is Sustainability Maturity?

Sustainability maturity refers to how an organisation approaches sustainability as well as the level to which an organisation has achieved in integrating sustainability principles and practices into it’s operations, decision making processes and strategy. Sustainability maturity acknowledges that organisations develop over time in their commitment and become increasingly capable of addressing sustainability.

A business with low sustainability maturity will have little to no strategic or operational considerations for sustainability. Any environmental measures or tracking that has been implemented is unlikely to extend beyond existing regulations. They may anticipate the need to adapt in the future but have yet to implement additional sustainable practices.Businesses that have progressed further on their sustainability journey are likely to have taken steps beyond basic compliance with regulation. The drivers of implementing sustainable practices include external forces outside regulation, such as consumer demand and other market pressures.Businesses at the far end of their sustainability maturity journey have implemented initiatives across the entirety of the businesses. Such businesses are driven internally to pursue sustainable innovation, with sustainability being a primary factor in decision making throughout all levels of the organisation. Sustainability is viewed as brand enhancement and a driver of long term growth.

The Sustainability Maturity Path, pictured below from PWC and adapted by Ecochain, shows the six stages of the pathway together with the drivers and value methodology.

Top reasons for businesses to advance their sustainability maturity as identified by Business Chamber Queensland in the Advancing Business Sustainability Report include:

– Becoming more competitive by differentiating from competitors;

– Avoid being left behind in changing and developing markets;

– Enhancement in business resilience; and

– Reduction in the risk of business disruptions.

Business Sustainability at Applied Environment & Safety

We believe in promoting business sustainability and leading by example.

We really believe that every person and every business can make a difference. You don’t need to be a big organisation, or spend a lot of money, there are sustainable options, sustainable choices for everyone and every business.

Melanie Dixon – Director and Principal Consultant

As a company, we provide environmental, land access and safety consulting services across a wide range of projects. Our team focuses on the practical and best practice aspects of planning, implementation, and compliance. We aim to improve the performance of the projects that we support to add value and ensure sustainable outcomes for our clients.

As a business, Applied Environment & Safety has moved into the leadership step of the sustainability maturity path. We have invested in strategic programs to support our sustainability journey, including undertaking the ecoBiz program, and obtaining carbon neutral accreditation. For more information, read about Who We Are.

ecoBizApplied Environment and Safety have utilised the free ecoBiz program as one of the ways to track their environmental performance. Through this process, we have obtained a quantitative measure of our energy, water, and waste usage. As a result of the program, we have implemented several initiatives to reduce energy and water consumption and waste production, earning a three-star partnership from ecoBiz by reducing energy, water and waste consumption relative to their productivity, by more than 10%.
Carbon NeutralityApplied Environment and Safety have successfully become carbon neutral through Climate Active certification. This involved quantifying and reducing emission and then offsetting any remaining emissions to achieve a netzero carbon emissions output.
Following obtaining carbon neutral accreditation, we have developed a five-year carbon emissions reduction strategy. This involves transitioning our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and reducing the emissions in our supply chain through supporting other carbon neutral businesses. Another goal includes a shift towards zero waste. These initiatives require on-going monitoring and the setting of environmental key performance indicators that can be considered at every level of our business.

What can you do?

For more information on the ecoBiz program, head to Business Chamber Queensland’s ecoBiz website.

If you need some advice about minimising your environmental footprint or your carbon neutral journey, feel free to Contact Us with your questions and queries.

What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety refers to the belief that one can express themselves without fear of negative consequences such as humiliation, rejection, or punishment. It is the sense of security that people feel when they believe that their opinions, feelings and ideas will be respected and valued by others. As well as that they will not be subjected to ridicule, blame, or retaliation for expressing them.

Psychological safety is highly relevant to organisations and employers as it plays a significant role in shaping the culture and climate of the workplace.

What is a psychological hazard?

A psychosocial hazard is anything that could cause psychological harm which could for example impact on someone’s mental health. They arise from or are in relation to:

  • The design or management of work;
  • The working environment;
  • Plant at a workplace such as machinery, equipment, appliances, containers, implements and tools; or
  • Workplace interactions or behaviours.

Psychological hazards can create stress which can cause psychological or physical harm. Stress itself is not an injury, but if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe it can cause psychological and physical harm.

Psychological harm may include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or sleep disorders. Physical harm may include musculoskeletal injuries, chronic disease or fatigue related injuries.

Psychosocial hazards may interact or combine to create new, changed or higher risks. It is important to consider all the psychosocial hazards workers may be exposed to when managing psychosocial risks.

Some hazards may not create psychosocial risks on their own, but may do so if combined with other hazards.

How do employers identify psychological hazards in workplaces?

Employers can identify psychological hazards in the workplace by conducting a risk assessment. Other methods that can be used to identify psychological hazards can include:

  1. Worker and Employee Consultation
    • Engage with management, staff, key stakeholders, etc. through collaborative workshops to discuss operations and tasks to identify any issues or concens related to psychological health and safety in the workplace.
    • Encourage feedback. This is 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.
  2. Workplace Inspections and Audits
    • Regular workplace inspections, audits and observations help to identify potential hazards, such as unsafe working conditions, that may impact worker psychological health and safety.
  3. Incident Reporting and Review
    • Review reports of hazards, incidents or complaints related to workplace bullying, harassment and stress to identify potential hazards.
  4. Review Workplace Policies and Procedures
    • Employers, with the engagement of employees, can review workplace policies and procedures to identify any potential hazards or gaps in current practices.

Once potential psychological hazards have been identified, organisations and employers can take steps to eliminate or minimise their impact on workers. This may involve implementing new policies and procedures, providing training and education, and making changes to the physical work environment.

For further information on the four steps of hazard identification and risk management, refer to our Introduction to Hazard Identification and Risk Management article.

Approaches and examples of psychologically safety in the workplace

There are several key initiatives that organisations and employers can implement to create a psychologically safe workplace that promotes well-being and productivity of employees. The table below lists key approaches and examples of psychological safety initiatives.

Psychological Safety ApproachesExamples
Establish clear expectations and policies that promote a culture of respect and inclusivity.Developing policies and procedures related to workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination and providing training and education to employees on these issues.
Encourage open communication by establishing clear channels for employees to voice their concerns and ideas.Regular team meetings, anonymous feedback systems, and regular check-ins with employees.
Provide training and development opportunities.Opportunities for employees to build skills, confidence, and resilience through training and development programs, coaching and mentoring, and other support services.
Foster a positive work environment.Recognise and reward employee contributions, celebrate successes, and promoting a sense of belonging among employees.
Manage workloads and resources.Manage workloads and resources to ensure that employees are not overworked or overstressed through providing additional resources, such as staffing or equipment, and monitoring workloads to ensure that they are manageable.
Promote work-life balance.Providing flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work, job-sharing, or telecommuting, and promoting work-life balance policies and programs.

Upcoming legislative changes in Queensland

From 1 April 2023, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) in Queensland will have a positive duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace. Similar requirements are already in effect in New South Wales, with new duties to manage psychosocial risks commenced in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) on 1 October 2022.

This means that organisations and employers must be proactive in identifying and managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace, such as workplace bullying, harassment, and stress, and take steps to eliminate or minimise their impact on workers.

Overall, promoting psychological safety in the workplace can lead to a more positive and productive work environment, where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to contribute to the success of the organisation.

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.

Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Weed, Pest and Diseases on Project Sites

Construction and ground disturbance works have the potential to introduce and spread of weed and pest species and diseases that can have damaging effects on land use, the natural landscape and biodiversity. As well as have a negative impact on the environment, economy, landowners and surrounding communities. Effective biosecurity management is crucial in preventing the introduction and spread of weed and pest species and diseases.

Biosecurity Management Starts with Planning

The first step in preventing the spread of weeds, pest species and diseases is to identify which species are present onsite and regionally. A site survey can be conducted to determine which weed species are present and where they are located. Once this is done, exclusion zones and appropriate control measures can be planned. Exclusion zones can be established around areas of highly invasive weed species to prevent their spread. These zones should be clearly marked, and all personnel should be made aware of these zones.

Preventing the introduction of new species is a highly effective control measure. All equipment, vehicles, and materials should be free of potential weed, pest and disease containing materials. Thorough cleaning and inspection procedures can achieve this requirement.

Implementation and Monitoring of Biosecurity Control Measures

Weed and disease hygiene controls in the form of washdown bays are particularly important for sites located near sensitive environmental and agricultural areas. These are designated areas where vehicles and equipment are thoroughly cleaned, and if required disinfected, to remove any weeds or diseases that may be present.

Equipment and vehicles are washed down using a combination of a high-pressure hose and a hard bristled brush to remove dirt and debris from the wheels and undercarriage. In instances where there is the potential for pathogens, such as Phytophthora, a disinfectant solution is then applied to the vehicle. Any plant or pathogen material is collected within the sump of the washdown bay for later disposal.

Other key biosecurity control measures include:

– Minimising disturbance to the minimum areas required for safe access and works. Also prevent further ground disturbance which can encourage the growth and spread of weed species;

– Control measures such as the use of herbicides and physical removal for weeds; 

– Work areas and laydown areas should be kept clean and tidy. This reduces the opportunities for pest animals to shelter and source food;

– Progressive rehabilitation of disturbed areas to reduce the establishment of weeds; and

– Regular inspections to identify the present or spread of weed and pest species. Then monitor control measures are being implemented and are effective.

How We Can Help Your Project

At Applied Environment and Safety, we are committed to providing our clients with industry leading best practice. This includes using our technical knowledge and industry experience from planning through to implementation and compliance. Our team is dedicated to identifying environmental risks, providing practical solutions and improving project outcomes.

For more information on our services, visit our Services Page.

Allison has recently joined Applied Environment & Safety, adding her passion for environmental sustainability to the team. Allison enjoys using her extensive practical experience to collaborate with project teams to develop innovative environment and sustainability solutions. 

Allison completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science in 2007 and has 15 years’ of experience working in environment and sustainability roles.  She has worked throughout Australia in transport, power, renewables, water and mining sectors across project planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance.  

Allison has diverse interests in compliance management and reporting, construction environmental management, infrastructure sustainability, environmental planning and approvals, and stakeholder management.  Allison strives on combining sound technical advice with extensive environmental knowledge and understanding of legislation and policy to support project delivery that minimises impacts and provides benefits to the surrounding communities and environment.   

Allison will be providing Applied Environment & Safety with senior environmental planning, compliance and management support for our upcoming power, transport and mining projects.

In her spare time, Allison strives to live sustainably by sourcing local produce, minimising food waste and keeping herbs and veggies in her garden alive.  She will also take any opportunity she gets to tell anyone about her dog, a 10 yr old cattle dog cross called BB, who loves snoozing, barking at the postie and slow daily walks.  

This article introduces the requirements of an Ecological Assessment in Queensland, which forms part of the development application process. We provide details on how we assist our clients through this process.

What is an Ecological Assessment?

The ecological assessment for developments in Queensland will vary according to the development approval pathway.

A small development, such as a residential development, is typically subject to the requirements of the local government planning scheme. The local Council will liaise with state government agencies as part of the assessment where State matters are triggered. Most local governments provide guidelines for ecological assessments to accompany development applications.

More complex developments may require submission to your local Council or maybe ‘called in’ by the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) for assessment. Infrastructure projects, such as road, rail and energy infrastructure, are often subject to separate approvals processes and/or are exempt from some components of standard planning approvals processes. 

For developments where matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) are present, depending on the scale of impact, it may be necessary to refer the development to the Commonwealth government. MNES include threatened species; threatened ecological communities; lands, waters or species subject to international agreements or treaties, including migratory shorebirds; World Heritage Areas and Ramsar wetlands. 

Why is ecological assessment critical?

An Ecological Assessment is part of the regulatory requirements for development applications in Queensland. An Ecological Assessment provides a means of identifying protected species or areas and determining the potential impacts of the development on these sensitivities.

How do you conduct an ecological assessment?

Qualified and experienced environmental professionals undertake Ecological Assessments. They are developed to include the relevant ecological information necessary for the development application. This will typically consist of the following:

– Description of the development

– Results of the ecological desktop assessments and field-based surveys

– An assessment of the impacts from the development on ecological values

– Recommendations to avoid or mitigate impacts of the development on ecological values

– Any further actions required

For a development application with minor disturbance, we assist our clients through the Ecological Assessment process through these steps:

– Undertake an onsite inspection of the proposed development and discussions about the works including clearing and other ground disturbance methodologies

– Inspection of disturbance area including vegetation to be cleared 

– Development of Ecological Assessment Report with details from supporting reports such as arborist reports or flora and fauna surveys

– Development of management measures and offsets to minimise and mitigate the impacts from the proposed development

– Submission to local Council

– Follow up with the Council on the lodgement of the Ecological Assessment Report and respond to any questions including updating the Plan as required

As part of the Ecological Assessment, planning and design considerations are firstly considered to minimise potential environmental impacts. This may include minimising the disturbance area, avoiding areas with high biodiversity values, using existing cleared areas, and locating new infrastructure near existing infrastructure. Management measures are developed to minimise impacts including managing the vegetation clearing process.

How can Applied Environment & Safety Help?

Applied Environment & Safety has been assisting local clients with ecological assessments for their proposed developments against the Noosa Plan 2020: Biodiversity, Waterways and Wetlands Overlay Code. We have diverse experience in development applications and environmental impact assessment. This allows us to identify potential impacts and develop practical mitigation and management measures.

Google Review from our local client

Jeff Sly –

“I highly recommend, Applied Environment & Safety, the service I received, was above and beyond, what I expected when I requested their expertise in this field. Melanie, and her team, provided a comprehensive Environmental report for the approval process to progress; we had numerous issues satisfying council requirements. Melanie worked through the issues meticulously, until approval was granted. Tanya and Jeff.”

Lachlan has recently joined Applied Environment & Safety, adding his passion for environmental sustainability to the team. He enjoys researching environmental issues and collaborating with teams to develop innovative environmental solutions.

A lifelong fascination with the natural world inspired Lachlan to pursue a career in environment management. Lachlan completed a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) with a Distinction in 2018 and has commenced a Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne.

Lachlan has diverse interests in research related to climate change adaptation, sustainable land management, conservation and regeneration. Through taking courses at Universities in Australia, Austria and Denmark, he was able to explore a broad spectrum of academic research in environmental sciences, which has provided him with an interdisciplinary and global understanding of these fields. Experiencing alternative systems to environmental management spurred his interest in the field, driving him to undertake further coursework and a career in environmental management. 

Over the past 5 years he has consolidated his practical knowledge through various field roles in environmental management, monitoring and regeneration.  Working in the civil construction industry and NFP sector has allowed him to work closely with various stakeholders from the State and Federal Government to community groups. Taking an active role in small teams, he facilitated projects from inception and design to implementation.

Lachlan has been assisting Applied Environment & Safety with environmental planning for the decommissioning of the Eyre Peninsula Transmission Line project, which commences early in the new year. 

In his spare time, Lachlan is a keen supporter of community environmental projects, notably waterways regeneration. Lachlan is also a keen trail runner and spends his weekends creating ceramics, his food garden and woodworking.

A Site Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) is a site-specific document identifying the environmental aspects of an activity; the potential impacts of the activity on these environmental aspect; and ways in which these impacts can be reduced through management strategies and site practices. 

In simple terms, the main focus of a SEMP is the development of a plan that is specific to an activity and outlines:

– The activity to be undertaken

– Relevant environmental aspects

– Potential impacts of the activity on these aspects

– How these impacts will be managed through implementation and monitoring

Description of Activity

The SEMP should describe the activity to be undertaken. This should define the nature and scope of the activity and include the location, phases of work and timing/scheduling. The level of detail of the activity description should be sufficient to provide an understanding of each process and allow determination of the environmental potential impacts. 

The SEMP should include a description of any relevant approval conditions and internal or client management requirements. The plan should distinguish between construction and operational activities, if relevant.

A site plan or drawing should also be included with the following:

– Location of work areas and access

– Environmental aspects such as waterways, native vegetation, residential housing etc

– Locations of environmental protection measures

Environmental Aspects

The SEMP should identify the environmental aspects located within or surrounding the activity area. The types of environmental aspects that need to be considered may include the following: 

– Erosion and sedimentation

– Water management including stormwater

– Dust and air quality management

– Noise and vibration

– Waste minimisation and management 

– Hazardous materials storage and use

– Flora and fauna including weeds

– Indigenous and non-indigenous heritage

– Rehabilitation 

Potential Impacts on Environmental Aspects

It is important to understand the link between the activities and environmental aspects. An assessment should be undertaken to identify potential environmental impacts of the activity including the nature and extent of the impacts; short-term and long-term effects; and any uncertainties regarding the predicted impacts. This assessment requires two steps as detailed below.

Step 1: Identify the environmental aspects 

The types of environmental aspects are listed above. There may be generic risks that relate to all of your activities, such as waste and chemical management, and then also site-specific aspects, such as surrounding vegetation, erosion and sediment and nearby houses.

Step 2: Undertake a risk assessment

Based on the environmental aspects, document the likelihood and consequence of impacts from the activity:


What is the likelihood that the aspect will impact the environment?

Certain = Will occur at a frequency greater than every week if preventative measures are not applied.

Likely = Will occur more than once or twice but less than weekly if preventative measures are not applied.

Unlikely = This might occur once or twice during the project if preventative measures are not applied.

Rare = Unlikely to occur during a project even if controls are missing.

Potential Impact

How severe will the potential impact be?

Catastrophic = Significant damage or impact on the environment or community

Major = Major adverse environmental or social impacts

Moderate = Moderate undesirable environmental or social impacts 

Minor = No or minimal adverse environmental or social impacts 

The level of risk to an environmental aspect will determine the type and amount of mitigation and management measures that will be required. Where a significant risk to the environment has been identified, environmental protection measures must be introduced to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Aspects with a medium or low risk should also have practicable management measures implemented if these can further reduce risk. The types of management measures are detailed in the next Section.

Managing Environmental Impacts

The types of measures that may be implemented for controlling potential impacts on environmental aspects may include:

– Water diversion structures

– Soil stabilisation measures

– Sediment retention structures

– Vehicle, machinery and equipment cleaning mechanisms

– Waste separation and containment 

– Bunding and other spill prevention 

– Flora and fauna protection mechanisms

– Archaeological/heritage protection mechanisms

Monitoring the Effectiveness of Environmental Controls

The SEMP should specify how the effectiveness of environmental controls will be monitored. It should include the methodology, frequency and duration of monitoring activities. It should include trigger values or conditions under which corrective actions will be taken. The plan should also specify if, and when, follow-up action is required and how monitoring records will be maintained.

An example of environmental monitoring is the implementation of a Weekly Environmental Inspection to check environmental controls throughout the activity. The trigger point would be non-compliance with any of the requirements in the Weekly Environmental Inspection Checklist. This would then require an assessment of the effectiveness of the controls and the potential implementation of additional or revised controls.

Further Information on Environmental Management Plans

For information see our Environmental Management Plans article.

How We Can Help 

Applied Environment & Safety has vast experience in the development and implementation of Site Environmental Management Plans. We supported our client in the development and implementation of site-specific management plans.

PCA Ground Engineering was engaged by the local Council to undertake a road embankment stabilisation project at Sunrise Beach, Noosa, Queensland. The works were vital to maintaining the long-term serviceability of the road and drainage infrastructure at this location. 

We developed the Environmental Management Plan; Sediment and Erosion Control Plan; and Rehabilitation Plan. The environmental aspects of the project included:

– Erosion and sediment control

– Biosecurity management 

– Waste management

– Rehabilitation

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

Environmental plans and controls were effectively implemented during this project. We believe in working closely with our clients to build supportive relationships. By working together, we ensured environmental risks were mitigated during this project.

Building on our introduction to management systems, we have provided you with a simple and easy-to-follow Environmental Management System Checklist to determine your compliance against ISO 14001. We have also included a direct downloadable PDF version of the checklist to simplify your assessment process.



  • Have we determined internal and external issues that will impact on our environmental management system?


  • Have we determined what internal and external interested parties are relevant to the environmental management system and what are their requirements?


  • Have we determined the boundaries of the environmental management system and documented the scope?



  • Can we demonstrate top management is providing leadership and commitment to the environmental management system?


  • Do we have a documented environmental policy that is communicated and available?


  • Are roles and responsibilities for environmental management documented? 



  • Have we determined the environmental risks and opportunities related to our organisation?
  • Do we have plans to address them? Have we maintained records?


  • Have we determined our environmental aspects and impacts, including any significant aspects and our criteria for determining this?
  • Do we have plans to address them? Have we maintained records?


  • Have we determined our compliance obligations and how they apply to us? Do we have plans to address them?
  • Have we maintained records?


  • Have we established environmental objectives? 
  • Do we monitor, measure and communicate them? 
  • Do we have plans to address them?
  • Have we maintained records? 



  • Have we determined and ensured the necessary resources for the environmental management system?


  • Do we ensure the training and competence of personnel?
  • Do we maintain records?


  • Have we ensured that personnel are aware of our policy, significant aspects and processes relevant to them?


  • Have we determined processes for internal and external communication relevant to environmental management including staff, contractors, visitors, regulators and interested parties?
  • Have we maintained records?


  • Do we ensure documents and records are controlled? 



  • Have we established and maintained procedures to meet the requirements of the environmental management system?
  • Do we maintain control and influence over outsourced processes?
  • Consistent with a life cycle perspective do we consider environmental requirements in design processes and ensure impacts associated with transportation, use and end-of life treatment are controlled?
  • Do we maintain records?


  • Have we documented processes for emergency?
  • Are they tested and do we evaluate effectiveness? Do we maintain records?



  • Do we have processes for reporting, investigating and taking action to manage incidents and corrective action?
  • Do we maintain records?


  • Do we continually improve the environmental management system?