We have had a great response to our call for news this month. Thanks to all who contributed. Consequently, we have a packed newsletter this time.
Just a quick reminder to ensure that your membership is paid up to take advantage of the discounted registration fees offered for events detailed below.
Please send in any news for the next edition by early July to ensure inclusion in the next newsletter.
President, EMS Association
From looking like we would have a national approach to workplace health and safety legislation and regulations just over 6 months ago, things are now looking much less harmonised. Despite early progress to develop model legislation, with some States taking up the new requirements, several have now withdrawn from the process, while others are considering doing so. Angus Macinnis from Dibbs Barker reported on 1 March 2012 that “the South Australian and Tasmanian parliaments [were] still considering their positions, after having earlier looked likely to adopt harmonised legislation. Victoria now looks likely to make changes, and Western Australia now looks very unlikely to adopt any legislation which looks like the harmonised model. If that wasn't bad enough, Queensland now looks likely to "de-harmonise" its legislation if, as the polls predict, there is a change of government in March 2012.” Businesses and entities operating across state borders are now in the position of still having to address inconsistent legislation cross various jurisdictions.
But how much does it matter in the workplace that harmonisation has not yet been achieved? In general, employers still need to demonstrate that they are fulfilling their obligations to a duty of care, being duly diligent, and consulting staff regarding workplace risks and hazards. Some of the buzz words that are being used are:
The new legislation has broadened the definition of ‘workers’ to include volunteers (see the March 2012 EMSA newsletter for more on this issue), but contactors, sub-contractors labour hire employees, and work experience students are all still included. Workplaces include not only sites directly under the control of the business, but may also include home office areas and vehicles.
Overall employers still need to show that they are meeting their obligations to ensure the safety of those they employ, and workers still need to be active participants in the safety process. There still needs to be someone clearly tasked with ensuring all workplace health and safety obligations are met, demonstration that due diligence requirements are being met (including appropriate records), and monitoring, reporting of and responding to incidents and near-misses occurs. Systems processes are a great way to make sure that all of this happens, irrespective of whether harmonised legalisation exists or not.
The Australian government has recognised that many businesses find it difficult keep abreast of all relevant Australian and other Standards, Codes of Conduct/Practice and similar documents. There are concerns relating to content quality control, given the numerous and diverse authors of such materials, and also regarding the on-going accessibility to such documents once they have been referred to in legislation. Businesses can find it difficult to justify the costs of updating their own copies of these materials as well, as they try to make sure they are compliant with a range sources of information. In response, the Australian Government may well move away from referencing such Standards when developing legislation in some areas. What do EMSA members think about this? I want to make this a feature topic in upcoming newsletters, so would like to receive member feedback on this trend. If you have a comment, please either use the profile page on the website to have your say (go to your profile and ‘Add content’ – noting only financial members can make their comments public), or send an email to email@example.com with ‘Availability of Standards’ in the subject line, so we can include your feedback in the next newsletter.
Standards Australia provides a subscription service to keep you updated on new, amended or newly released Standards. Although a fee for service package, the service can assist in keeping up to date with EMS, QA and OH&S Standards, various industry standards, knowledge management areas, CSR and ethics, privacy and auditing standards, amongst others. The service covers both Australian and international Standards, and is available in two tiers: Tier 1 up to 50 Standards, with Tier 2 covering over 50 Standards and subject areas (an upper limit applies of 800 publications ‘watched’). SAI Global also notes that discount packages are available for small to large enterprises that may require multiple licences.
As raised in the last newsletter, ISO 14001 is being revised. Brit Ingvild Holmem, of DNV BA recently reported that major changes to the document can be expected when the final version is released in January 2015 . ISO Guide 83 (which is currently going through the final comment phase itself) provides a common high level structure for management system standards. It uses identical text for management system standards and common core management system terms and definitions, and will be used as the platform for the new 14001 Standard. An ISO report “The future challenges of environmental management” made a number of recommendations that will also be taken into account in the review. Some of the recommendations to be considered where that the environmental principles in the social responsibility standard ISO 26000 be integrated into 14001 and that performance evaluation and clarification of the need for improvements in environmental performance be strengthened. The revision process started in February 2012 and will take three years. The first draft from the Committee is expected to be ready in early 2013, and the Draft International Standard (DIS) by end of 2013. The finals DIS should be ready by mid-2014, and the final, revised standard is to be released by January 2015.
An ISO survey of existing and potential users of ISO 9001:2008 was conducted to assess whether the standard needed further improvement. Up to the end of December 2009, at least 1 064 785 ISO 9001 (2000 and 2008) certificates had been issued in 178 countries and economies. In line with ISO rules that all its standards be reviewed at least every five years to establish whether they should be confirmed, revised or withdrawn, an online survey was carried out by subcommittee SC 2, Quality management systems, of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176 responsible for ISO 9001:2008. The survey was made available in 11 languages, reflecting the diverse spread of users. A total of 11, 722 responses to the survey were received from 122 countries. Customer satisfaction was the most commonly stated reason for seeking certification, with this and standardised business processes being the two most important benefits reported. EMS and then OH&S Standards were the most commonly reported systems that were integrated with QA systems. Further results can be seen at www.iso.org/tc176/sc2/ISO9000UserSurvey.
Julian Drape reported in the Canberra Times (May 4th 2012) that South Korea’s emissions trading legislation had been passed, with the scheme enacted from 2015. South Korea joins Australia and 33 other countries using emissions trading as a way to reduce carbon pollution. Twenty-seven EU member States, New Zealand, California and Quebec are all reported to have emission trading schemes in place. China is also set to commence trading (see below), while Mexico has a voluntary ETS, with South Africa due to introduce a carbon tax in 2013. While Korea's carbon price is yet to be determined, the penalty for non-compliance will be capped at $83 per tonne. In Australia, the carbon tax will initially be a fixed price of $23 a tonne, moving to a market fixed price by 2015.
Seven pilot emissions trading schemes have been established in five cities (including Beijing and Shanghai) and two provinces (Hunan and Canton), as precursors to a national scheme. In conjunction with the pilots a voluntary carbon trading exchange (known as the China Beijing Environment Exchange or CBEX) has also been established. A voluntary carbon standard, the ‘Panda Standard’ has been developed and local ETS trading rules are being determined. Reductions of 49-52% in emissions have been slated as initial targets, according to Dr Fugiang Yang, senior advisor from climate change at the National Resource Defence Council office in Beijing.
Chris Balfour (Manager Environmental Reporting and Development, Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability in Victoria) reports that on 27 March 2012 the strategic audit report Sustainability - designed to be signed, sealed and delivered was tabled in the Victorian Parliament by The Hon Ryan Smith MP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change. In this year’s report, the Commissioner examines how contracts and contracting processes can leverage environmental outcomes. This is an important question given the value of public sector expenditure on supplies and services and other operating expenses is around $22 billion annually. This equates to an estimated 7% of the Gross State Product.
The report also includes the annual examination of environmental performance data in relation to Victorian Government Departments, the Environmental Protection Authority and Sustainability Victoria. Compared to the 2011 report, results largely show continued progress across government with a 3.3% decrease in total greenhouse gas emissions. For more information visit www.ces.vic.gov.au/sustainability-in-government
Andrew Powell MP, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, recently wrote to EMSA to state “As you may be aware, the new Queensland Government gave a commitment to repeal the Industry Waste Levy. The government is taking the necessary procedural steps to repeal the levy by 1 July 2012. It will do so by amending the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011. This is in line with the public pre-election commitments that were made.” Minister Powell noted that support programs funded for business and local government by the levy were closed on 10 May 2012, in accordance with policy changes relating to the Waste Avoidance and Resource Efficiency (WARE) Fund. Minster Powell went on to state is his message “The Queensland Government remains committed to improving the way we manage waste and resources, and will be working with all sectors to develop an industry-led strategy. I will personally continue to meet with, and seek feedback from, all those involved in the critical task of managing and recycling our waste” and invited those who had any further enquiries relating to the closure of any of the programs, to contact the department on telephone 07 3339 5899 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. EMSA encourages members in Queensland to use these contact details to raise what alternative arrangements have been put in place to help address waste management and recycling in that State.
Road works on the Pacific Highway recently featured in the national press for all the wrong reasons. Workers on the construction site became ill, and the cause was suggested to have been pesticides and radioactive materials left on the site following a road accident more than 30 years ago. A truck carrying isotopes from Sydney to Brisbane had crashed in the area. However, there were also claims made that DDT and chromium had also been buried at the site (see http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/evidence-of-toxic-chemicals-on-road-union-20120504-1y2vv.html). Investigations as to the cause of the road workers symptoms are continuing. It is interesting to consider just how far back the history of a site should be considered when doing a risk assessment for major construction. The case also raises some problems with the storage of information and accessibility to records. While NSW EPA does provide a list of known contaminated sites (see http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/clm/publiclist.htm) this list relies on sites firstly accurately being recognised as contaminated and secondly, the EPA being notified in a timely manner. In addition, the list does not appear to contain information related to episodic contamination such as created by vehicular accidents. It would appear that keeping clear records, and improving communication as to potential risk areas are vital to allow for accurate risk assessments in the future.
John Paterson from New Zealand (who spoke at the EMSA Conference in Bunbury) notes that the Deer Farmers in New Zealand have produced a 2nd edition of their Landcare Manual, and that the NZ Beef and Lamb group are refreshing their land and environment planning toolkit (see http://www.beeflambnz.com/farm/tools-resources/land-and-environment-planning-toolkit/). Both industry programs have taken up some features of the EMS cycle.
NCSI recently completed a major survey into corporate sustainability practices in Australia. The 2011 Corporate Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change Governance Survey was aimed at Australian senior and executive corporate managers, with an objective of promoting better understanding of prevailing trends in business sustainability and climate change responses. A White Paper of the results has been released (see http://www.ncsi.com.au/Corporate-Environmental-Sustainability-Climate-Change-Survey-2011-Report for more information.
Staff at Wembley Gold Course in WA (www.wembleygolf.com.au) are using high resolution imagery and different light spectrums to measure chlorophyll levels in their course trees. They aim to establish the increase of vigour and/or decline of every tree on the golf course, and allow individual trees to be isolated so that specific treatments of fertiliser or fungicides can be applied. A follow is made annually to assess whether these measures had any benefit to the trees. By assessing trees in this way, course managers hope to have a major impact in tree protection, and better identify the many disorders in trees that can occur throughout the golf course. Wembley golf course is on 132 hectares in an urban environment 6 kilometres from Perth CBD. The Tuart trees on the site are regarded as one of the courses greatest assets as the Tuart trees are iconic to the area. For more information, please contact Darren Wilson, Golf Course Superintendent on 08 92841444 or 0411310511, or at email@example.com
The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has fine the former owners of Lady Annie Mine, located 120 kilometres north west of Mt Isa, $500,000 for causing serious environmental harm, as defined under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, by discharging contaminated water from the mine site. The fine was in addition to the estimated $11 million the former operator had been made to spend by DERM to clean up and rehabilitate the site following the discharge. Investigation costs of $83,109.55 were also applied. The water contamination caused by the discharges extended for 52 kilometres and was highly toxic, killing freshwater crabs and fish.
Moolarben Coal Operations Pty Ltd was fined $112,500 by the Land and Environment Course in NSW for polluting waters near Mudgee in December 2009 – its second major fine for polluting waters in three weeks. Waters containing earth and sediments from a mine site were released into Bora Creek. Structures that prevented dirty water from entering the creek were deliberately removed, to prevent damage to site infrastructure. An EPA representative, Mark Gifford, stated that “If the company’s erosion and sediment control plan had been properly implemented from the outset, this company could have avoided two convictions and saved itself $217,500 in fines and $116,000 in prosecution costs on top of its own legal fees”. In handing down the sentence in the Land and Environment Court yesterday, Justice Craig said the company “took a number of risks” that “could not reasonably be justified” and that “practical measures were available to avoid the harm”.
The Australian National Construction Code (NCC) (see http://www.abcb.gov.au/about-the-national-construction-code) is an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments developed to incorporate all on-site construction requirements into a single code. Working out what bits of the code can apply to locations in a premises can be a mind-boggling task, but this nifty little tool is available to help you find out what Standards relate to buildings and construction. . You simply click on the room you want to examine, and then click over the various ‘hot spots’ to find out relevant Standards. Unfortunately you still need to buy the actual codes to see what they say (at https://services.abcb.gov.au/abcbshop/index.aspx), but you can also access a number of tools (for example a glazing calculator, a lighting calculator and climate zone maps) that can be helpful to determine energy efficient options for buildings (see http://www.abcb.gov.au/en/ncc-products for these tools).
Have a look at http://infostore.saiglobal.com/
Martin Hollebrandse, Certification Manager from ECAAS Certification Pty Ltd has notified EMSA that ECAAS Certification recently released a new integrated Management System standard that combines environmental requirements with those for quality and occupational health & safety management systems. While the document has only recently been released, Martin states it is already being embraced and implemented by several organisations as well as professional consultants as a very useable and suitable alternative to the more formal ISO9001, ISO14001 and AS/NZS4801. iQES:2012 has been specifically designed to assist small and medium sized businesses to establish, implement and maintain an integrated system. See http://www.ecaas.com.au/ for further information.
Green business alliance, the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), has launched two new free sustainable water management tools - the GEMI Local Water Tool (downloadable at http://www.gemi.org/localwatertool/ ) and the GEMI LWT for Oil and Gas (see http://www.gemi.org/gemihome.aspx). These tools help companies and organisations evaluate the external impacts, business risks, opportunities and management plans related to water use and discharges at a specific site or operation. Data generated can be used for both internal and external communication. The tools aim to provide best practices and water risk assessment for sustainable water management at the global, regional, national and local levels, GEMI says. The GEMI LWT™ was developed in cooperation with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
EKSA have recently developed an online database of environmental best management practices (BMPs) for horticulture in the Perth region of Western Australia. The database contains over 3,000 information resources relevant to the activities of grape growers, orchardists and market gardens across the region and more broadly. Information has been sourced from National through to local sources. Information is organised into libraries which are based around the framework provided by the Guidelines for Environmental Assurance in Australian Horticulture published by Horticulture Australia (2006). The database has been developed using EKSA’s TargetOn information management and communication platform. The site can be found at http://sustainableagricultureperth.targeton.com/. Email Ian Kininmonth at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Stephen Jenkins, Managing Director of EnviroRisk Management has advised that they have launched a new Environmental Compliance web based application to assist managers and assessors stay on top of their compliance obligations. ‘ComplySure’ is a purpose designed web application designed to avoid the paperwork that often engulfs the compliance process. The application is cloud based, has real time functions and can be accessed from anywhere. Smart features include automatic notifications, charting of monitoring results, photo capture and report production. Visit www.complysure.com.au for more details.
The Australian National Audit Office (see Website: http://www.anao.gov.au) has released a new guidance document – the ‘Public Sector Environmental Management: reducing the environmental impacts of public sector operations. A Better Practice Guide 2012’ (see (http://www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Better-Practice-Guides/2011-2012/Public-Sector-Environmental-Management). This Guide aims to assist Australian Government public sector entities to improve environmental management practices and reduce the environmental impacts of their operation, foster greater efficiencies and operational cost savings and meet legislative, regulatory and policy requirements. The Guide has been developed within the context of the Australian public sector’s environmental management framework, which includes the legislative, regulatory and policy requirements that currently apply to public sector entities under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. Key elements of this framework focus on operational areas, such as energy and water consumption, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) use, waste generation, travel and property management.
The Guide provides executives with a set of fundamental principles to assist them in establishing and maintaining an integrated strategy for environmental management within their organisations. Practical implementation advice, case studies and checklists have also been included to assist environmental managers to meet monitoring and reporting requirements and to introduce improved practices. Limited hardcopies are available and can be requested by contacting the ANAO Publications Manager at email@example.com.
A new leasing package will allow businesses to lease up to $100,000 worth of energy-saving technologies, and potentially cut their power bills by as much as half. The Energy Smart Finance package has been established by the Low Carbon Australia fund and the Australian Securities Exchange-listed financial services company, FlexiGroup. The package has been established in recognition of the fact that while many businesses would like to replace old technology with energy-efficient equipment, the costs of doing so can create problems with cash flow. Low Carbon Australia will provide as much as $100 million of assistance to businesses to adopt more energy efficiency equipment, through leasing arrangements. LED lighting, heating and cooling systems, voltage regulators and power factor correction devices and real time energy and water monitoring of buildings are some of the technologies being supported. With electricity price increases of between 30-40% predicted across Australia between 2010-2013, investing in energy efficiency would seem to be a wise choice for businesses wishing to remain competitive. See http://www.energysmartfinance.com.au/ for more information.
Australia’s Climate Change Ministers recently agreed upon a national set of minimum standards for energy efficiency for appliances such as air conditioners, dishwashers and fridges. Whitegoods manufacturers now have a consistent set of standards across jurisdictions. According to the Energy Rating website (http://ww.energyrating.gov.au) the main policy tools to achieve reductions in energy use from whitegoods are the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS; see http://ww.energyrating.gov.au/programs/e3-program/meps/about) and the
Energy Rating Labels (ERLs; see http://ww.energyrating.gov.au/programs/e3-program/energy-rating-labelling/about) which give the familiar ‘star’ rating for electrical goods. The Energy Efficiency program (E3) has been estimated to yield an overall benefit to Australia of $22.4 billion by 2024, resulting from environmental and economic benefits as well as savings for businesses and households.
Global Environmental Assurance will be running the following course “Sustainable Procurement: Incorporating Environmental Sustainability into Procurement” in Canberra on 22nd June, 2012. With our thanks to Mr Petar Johnson, the EMS Association is pleased to be able to offer all EMSA financial members a 15% discount for this event. Please confirm your membership at time of registration.
The course will cover:
Seats are strictly limited. Course costs are $545.00 (+$54.50 GST where applicable) with an optional competency assessment cost of $120.00.
To register go to www.globalenvassurance.com/training-division
Contact details for Global Environmental Assurance:
Phone +61 2 6288 6003
In order to qualify for your discount, please ensure that your membership with EMSA is up to date (check at www.ems.asn.au and login using your member name and password – you will see your registration status at this time). If you are not a member and wish to join prior to enrolling for the course, please go to www.ems.asn.au and follow the simple 3 step process to become a member. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance with this.
EMSA President, Genevieve Carruthers, recently met with the Government Agency Environment Network (GAEN) group in Canberra. On May 16th, Genevieve addressed this group of Federal and State agency staff, to let them know what EMSA is and does. Members of the GAEN network are working to improve their environmental performance through establishing an environmental management system in their own agencies, and work on a range of energy and water saving initiatives, waste management, recycling and environmental monitoring and reporting. GAEN's objective is to 'drive environmental performance improvement within public agencies'. It works towards achieving this objective by:
The GAEN network has similar objectives to EMSA, in that it recognises the important of exchange of information and ideas on the use of management systems and Standards. Some of these agencies are corporate members of EMSA, while it is hoped others will now join as a result of gaining an insight into the objectives and services we offer. To learn more about GAEN, please direct enquiries to GAENadmin@environment.gov.au.
Two staff members from corporate EMSA member Environment Essentials, Shona Cameron and Tony Date, will be presenting a workshop at the Environmental Assessments and Approvals Summit 2012, on May 30 in Sydney. The workshop - How to prepare an effective “Environmental Obligations Register” - explores the different tools available for gathering a comprehensive list of environmental, legal and other obligations. It also covers how to avoid fines and prosecutions, establishing obligations and setting up compliance systems to ensure good control and checking via internal audits. A number of case studies showing how companies and other organisations have achieved these outcomes will be presented. For more information, please contact Tony Date Senior Environmental Consultant, at Environment Essentials on 03 9095 6533 or 0416 or at email@example.com. The Environment Essentials website is www.enviroessentials.com.au
The Innovative Communication Workshop will be held in Sydney 1st and 2nd June. Communication is always a vital part of any management system, and this workshop will demonstrate effective communication strategies. Presenters include Dr Rich Schuttler from the US, an International public speaker, business consultant, and author. He has 25-years of diversified, domestic and international management and leadership improvement expertise within academic, federal/state governments, and Fortune 1,000 environments developing strategies and implementation methods. Other presenters are Dr Sabrina Pit (an academic and has extensive experience in designing interventions to measure and successfully change behaviour amongst professionals) Alisha Sey, RN and Naturopath, who will discuss emotional intelligence, Lisa Dew (architect and sustainability expert) and Damian Fitzpatrick. For more information, please call 040 5580 448 or visit: http://innovativecommunicationteam.com/
Workshops featuring new sustainability practices and innovative weed and disease management strategies, all with the aim of producing quality wine, will be held by NSW Department of Primary Industries in the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Yass Valley in June 2012. NSW DPI Extension Viticulturist, Tony Somers, said the workshops take in some of the NSW’s key wine producing regions and feature leading national and international vineyard experts. Topics to be covered will include use sheep as weed controllers, use of composts tea to suppress grapevine diseases, and the control of Botrytis bunch rot using natural bio-control products. The workshops build on NSW Wine growers interests in improving soil health, reducing chemical inputs and developing low impact management systems. Further information on the wine growers workshops is available from Tony Somers on 02 4939 8957.
The 2012 Government Sustainability Conference will provide local, state and federal government professionals and representatives of other public sector agencies with comprehensive analysis and advice about how to embed environmentally sustainable policies and practices within their organisations and the communities they serve. The event will be held September 18th and 19th at The Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne. A Public Sector Clean Energy Forum will be staged on Day 2.Early Bird Registration is $600 +GST. See www.governmentsustainability.com.au for more information.
Date for next newsletter item submission – July 15th 2012. Contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org