EMS Association Newsletter: March 2012 


Auditors role offered

The Association was recently contacted by an Australian council looking to employ an auditor to assist them with reviewing and improving their certified EMS. All financial members were advised of this role via email.

Did you get the email notifying members of this role? If not, then you aren’t a financial member! The best way to gain access to all the benefits of the Association is to join up. At $88 for an individual and $330 for a corporate membership (i.e. for a business with staff who want to be able to access all features of the website and receive discounts to Association events), it’s a great investment.

If you are not sure whether you are a financial member or not, go to the home page (www.ems.asn.au) and attempt to log in. If you are a member, your details should come up. If you can’t remember your password, then hit the forgotten password button and a new one will be sent to you automatically. Proceed to the payment section, organise your membership payment, and hey presto!, you too will be notified about jobs, special members events and the like!

What happens on an ISO committee?

Ever wondered what someone on an ISO committee actually does? This link  - http://www.iso.org/iso/my_iso_job.pdf - takes you to a booklet provided by ISO for new committee members and explains the roles and responsibilities associated with ISO committee work. It also provides some background into the various standards and history of the organisation.

UN Documents Propose Mandatory Sustainability Reporting

Tighter sustainability reporting has been called for in both the Rio +20 negotiating text and the recommendations made by the U.N. Secretary General’s High Level Panel in Global Sustainability. Along with these calls have come suggestions on the need for global policies and guidelines for sustainable development reporting. Such guidelines would assist not only in harmonising the quality of reporting, but also assist in promoting a ‘report or explain’ culture., already in existence in Denmark, where governments require large companies to disclose their sustainability reporting.

For more see Environmental Leader

Apple unveils 2012 responsibility report

In 2011, Apple conducted 229 audits throughout their supply chain, including over 100 first-time audits. Audits addressed labour and human rights, worker health and safety, environmental impact, and ethics, and suppliers’ efforts to set up management systems to keep themselves in compliance with Apple’s code of conduct. Third-party environmental engineering experts conducted detailed audits at 14 facilities – examining issues including air quality, waste management, water management and chemical handing. Some violations to compliance conditions were found, and Apple proposes to work with their suppliers to correct the issues, and to expand their environmental auditing program in the coming year. Another area covered in the audits was that of underage labour, and Apple claims that it has the toughest system addressing this issue in the electronics industry. As a result of audits, Apple has changed procedures including alteration of their age verification program and to suppliers’ hiring practices. Apple also uses audit results in training programs, and offers training for supply chain employees in local laws, workers’ rights, OH&S and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct. In addition, Apple severed ties with one supplier as a result of violations of fair work practices revealed during audits.

Full report: http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/reports.html

New structure proposed for ISO 14001

The International Standard Organisation (ISO) has indicated that ISO 14001: 2004 will be one of the first international management systems standards to adopt a new format. It is likely that the Standard will be significantly changed to meet the new high-level structure for management systems standards (MSS). Inclusion of some new elements will elevate the importance of environmental management overall to ‘core business’ status in organisations, rather than being treated as ‘tacked-on’ considerations to be addressed in isolation to other business issues. It is believed that the changes will assist in ISO’s long-term efforts to harmonise MSSs such as IOS 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001(for IT security). The working group revising ISO 14001 will incorporate 24 key recommendations made in Berlin in February by an international study group, and will next meet in Bangkok in June 2012.

Full story:  http://www.environmentalistonline.com/article/2012-02-27/new-structure-proposed-for-iso-14001.

Progress in National OHS Strategy 2002-2012

The National Strategy has two major targets; to reduce the incidence of work-related deaths by at least 20 per cent by 30 June 2012, and to reduce the incidence of workplace injury by at least 40 per cent by 30 June 2012.

In order to achieve these outcomes, 5 priority areas were identified:

  • reduce the impact of risk at work
  • improve the capacity of business operators and workers to manage work health and safety effectively
  • prevent occupational disease more effectively
  • eliminate hazards at the design stage, and
  • strengthen the capacity of government to influence work health and safety outcomes.

Five industries were identified as priority areas. Progress for these 5 industries has been mixed. The Construction, Health & community services and Transport & storage industries have seen reductions in injury incidence rates exceed 20%. However, the Manufacturing and Health & community services industries recorded only a 16% improvement since the Strategy began. The 13% fall in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industry was also below expectations. Nationally injury incidence rates have fallen 18% since the Strategy began.

More about the National OHS Strategy at Safe Work Australia.

New harmony in OHS legislation?

In case you haven’t seen it yet, the Model Work Health and Safety Bill (Model Bill 23/6/2011) provides definitions, outlines duties of officers, describes reasonable actions, details penalties, reporting responsibilities and other areas. You can download the Model Bill from Safe Work Australia.

Shona Cameron from Environment Essentials has advised of the following progress in the States and Territories for harmonised work, health and safety laws. In the Commonwealth, Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Queensland jurisdictions, the new laws commenced 1 January 2012. In South Australia, the WHS Bill was still being debated, with no commencement date announced. In Tasmania, the Bill had been released and is due to commence 1 January, 2013. Victoria had not released model legislation, with harmonisation delayed until at least 1 January 2012. In the case of Western Australia, while the Bill has been drafted, no commencement date has been advised.

Environment Essentials advice that they are currently updating their Law Guides in line with the above timeframes.

For more information, see: http://www.enviroessentials.com.au/eeweb/bulletins/2012 _02_OHS.php

Does your organisation work with, or rely on, volunteers?

If so, a new volunteer assistance package provided by Safe Work Australia in partnership with Volunteering Australia will be useful for you. The package includes a Volunteer Assistance Line, email and webpage designed to provide guidance and support to volunteers and volunteer organisations who may be affected by the new work health and safety (WHS) laws. By calling the Volunteer Assistance Line on 02 6240 4990 you can talk to an expert for advice on how the new WHS laws affect volunteers and their activities. The volunteer assistance package includes fact sheets, frequently asked questions and useful contacts and is available at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au or see: http://safeworkaustralia.gov.au/News/Pages/TN03022012.aspx

Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

As of 1 January this year, a new system of hazard classification and communication for workplace chemicals came into effect. The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), designed to streamline diverse systems of classification and hazard communication currently in use throughout the world, is being adopted by many countries. As a consequence, products will need to be reclassified, relabelled and new materials safety data sheets prepared by manufacturers and/or importers. A five year transitional period for these changes has been allowed, with all chemicals supplied for use after 1 January 2017 required to meet the new system. For further information, see: http://safeworkaustralia.gov.au/News/Pages/TN31012012.aspx

Working with water – related ISO Standards

Do you work on any aspect of water management? Over 550 ISO Standards relate to water management. The ISO provides a 4 page document summarising various international Standards relating to water. Issues such as good business practice, management of resources, risk assessment, metrics and infrastructure are included in these Standards. They tackle issues like service management of drinking and wastewater systems, water supply during crisis situations, irrigation, quality and conservation (e.g. hydrometry, quality sampling, water footprint) and infrastructure (e.g. pipes, valves, metering). ISO water standards can facilitate sustainable water management and increase water potential, helping alleviate water scarcity and contributing to achieving the UN’s Millennium Developing Goals. ISO & water, published in English and French can be downloaded from the ISO Website; see: http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1501

Upcoming Conferences of Interest

The Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting

GRI’s first ever regional conference will be held in Melbourne, Australia on 26-28 March 2012. Interested in attending? See https://www.globalreporting.org/information/events/australian-gri-conference-2012/Pages/default.aspx for more information.

Alternative Futures Conference 2012

The Alternative Futures Conference 2012 will be held in Newcastle, NSW on May 21-24 and will provide an innovative platform for representatives from councils, government agencies, research, business, nongovernment, community, and technology sectors interested in exploring emerging trends, progressive leadership, and new pathways towards sustainability for regions across Australia.

For more information, see: http://www.alternativefutures.com.au/