Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA): Helping you manage risk to the environment

By on April 7, 2020

What the new environment protection laws will mean for you.

New environment protection laws are intended to come into effect from 1 July 2020. These laws will require all businesses to manage the risks of harm to people and the environment from their activities.

The new laws introduce the general environmental duty. This duty is prevention focused.

The general environmental duty means it is your responsibility to understand and assess your risks. This includes understanding how your business activities can harm air, land, water and cause harm from waste and aggravated and unreasonable noise. You also need to manage your risks by taking reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce them.

To support the new legislative framework, proposed Environment Protection Regulations are under development.

The regulations will:

  • provide necessary prescription to give effect to parts of the legislation
  • address significant impacts on human health and the environment
  • control known risks of mismanagement
  • provide greater certainty to ensure consistent compliance with the new laws.

Regulations have been proposed under the new legislative framework where there is a risk of harm that requires specific detail for it to be appropriately managed and controlled.

Existing regulations and standards have been reviewed, and feedback used to understand their impact and the behaviours they create or control.

You can find more about the proposed regulations and standards on the Engage Victoria website.

Supporting industry to manage risk

EPA has developed guidance to help you identify hazards from your business activities. It describes some reasonable steps you can take to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm, including control options for appropriately storing and handling liquids and responding to incidents like spills.

Underpinning EPA’s new and updated guidance for industry is a four-step process you can use to assess and control hazards and risks. Doing this in a structured way helps you:

  • prevent harm to human health and the environment,
  • meet community expectations, and
  • support you to understand how to comply with your legal obligations.

Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business (EPA publication 1695) details four connected steps.

  1. Identify hazards: What hazards are present that might cause harm?
  2. Assess risk: What is the level or severity of risk, based on likelihood and consequence?
  3. Implement controls: What measures are suitable and available?
  4. Check controls: Review controls to ensure they are effective.

This guidance will be especially helpful for smaller businesses who may need extra support. Larger businesses may already have more complex risk management processes in place. At the very least, you can use it to inform how you develop your own workplace strategies to assess and control risk.

Small businesses can access further support through a self assessment tool on the EPA website.

Working with industry to develop sector specific guidance

EPA partnered with CMPA to develop Reducing risk in the premixed concrete industry (publication 1806). This guideline supports operators of concrete batching plants and pre-cast concrete manufacturing plants to manage the risk of harm to human health and the environment through good industry practice.

It helps operators to assess, manage and control their risks to achieve practical performance outcomes, while allowing flexibility on how this will be achieved.

Several control options are presented, which are examples only. Operators may not need to put all control options in place. There may be other options that are not listed which may be more effective.

Keep a look out for other EPA guidance to help you prevent harm to human health and the environment on the EPA website.

To contact EPA, visit www.epa.vic.gov.au or call 1300 372 842

About EPA Victoria

EPA Victoria is an independent statutory authority under the Environment Protection Act 2017. Our job is to keep Victoria prosperous and liveable by preventing and reducing harm from pollution and waste.

Further information

General environmental duty
www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/laws/new-laws/general-environmental-duty

Engage Victoria
www.engage.vic.gov.au/new-environmental-laws/subordinate-legislation

Assessing and controlling risk:
A guide for business www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/publications/1695-1

Small business self-assessment tool
https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/find-a-topic/small-business-self-assessment-tool

Reducing risk in the premixed concrete industry
www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/publications/1806

Business specific guidance
www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/find-a-topic

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