General Environmental Duty (GED)
A duty model based on the OHS Act
Under the new GED, it is your responsibility to:
- Identify and assess risks
- Assess options to eliminate and then reduce risks
- Implement controls to reduce risks as far as reasonably practicable
If you don’t, you could be facing criminal liability and fines as well as legal fees, clean-up costs and lost work time.
What is Reasonably Practicable?
The Act is flexible, risk-based and takes into account business scale and complexity of activities. Reasonably practicable means considering the risk of harm and implementing a proportionate response – as the level of risk and complexity increases, a greater response is required.
LET’S WORK THROUGH AN EXAMPLE:
Chemical spill from cleaning products
Has it happened before? What controls are currently in place? Any changes in operating conditions? How would or do staff react when this hazard occurs?
Water pollution, air pollution, human health risks
Ensure lids are secured and containers are labelled, install secondary barriers (i.e., bunding or drip trays), provide PPE and spill kits
Train staff, monitor and adapt controls, retain records of any business activities
Other hazards to address in your business include waste, air contaminants, odour, dust, stormwater contamination, fire and explosion emissions, noise and pathogens.