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Category Archives: EMS

Setting up an Environmental Management System (EMS)

An Environmental management system (EMS) can be a powerful tool to not only monitor and manage environmental impacts but also as an instrument for overall organisational improvement.

When well developed, implemented and used to full effect, an EMS can of course reduce environmental risks and harm, but can also:

> leverage efficiencies and cost reduction;

> facilitate cultural change and engagement; and

> support competitive advantages and brand differentiation.

Like any business system, whether for safety or quality or other businesses elements, the effectiveness of an EMS is ultimately a function of the effort and commitment that goes in to executing and employing the system.

As a guide to getting started, the basis of an EMS is often about getting data right. Tracking key environmental impacts such as energy, water, waste and greenhouse emissions forms the foundation to understand an organisation’s environmental footprint, issues and opportunities.

An EMS then establishes a framework to guide decisions that have a material effect on those impacts. Policies and procedures then provide guidance and instructions on how people are expected to operate, day to day requirements and what is the desired outcome.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework to manage the environmental performance of a company’s activities while helping to ensure environmental compliance. An EMS provides a structured approach to identifying and managing environmental impacts, targets, responsibilities, priorities and actions.

As with many systems there is of course an international standard for EMS, ISO14001. The standard is a great framework whether an organisation seeks accreditation or not. With or without that standard, a good EMS covers off on:

Regulations and compliance

> Does your organisation have an environmental strategy and policy and is it compliant with environmental laws and regulations?

Roles and responsibilities

> Does the company have an Environmental manager or someone responsible for environmental issues and conduct environmental training and induction?

Monitoring and Reporting

> Do you currently measure and record key environmental impacts and is there an Environmental Risk Assessment?

Environmental control

> Are you aware of your organisations environmental risks, impacts and significant aspects relating to activities and operations?

As the following shows, an EMS can be developed and implemented in a relatively short time and then the on-going benefits accrue and drive on-going benefits.

It has been noticeable that there is an increased take up of EMS. In the last 12-18 months Equilibrium has fielded increased inquiries from organisations seeking advice and support to det an EMS and gain greater control of their environmental impacts.

The stated reasons are many. Some are motivated by their customers, clients or the market generally and want to be seen to be doing the right thing, others recognise the need to measure so you can manage, and others are on a longer journey where environmental management is a foundation piece in a values driven approach to overall sustainability.

Whatever the inspiration, a good EMS is a solid approach to organisational and reputational improvement.

If your business is interested insetting up an EMS, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Visit our Case Studies page to see some prior EMS projects.

Virtual Site Audits in Covid-19 Restrictions

With Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disrupting businesses on a number of levels, Equilibrium has been working with our clients on bringing back businesses’ normal activities and maintaining a presence in state lock-down situations and travel restrictions.

Many compliance systems rely on physical site visits to audit a company or facility to assess if it is meeting any specific environmental management requirements and is operating in a way that protects its workers’ health and safety. While restrictions make it difficult to undertake these audits in the traditional sense, Equilibrium has developed a protocol for performing remote virtual audits.

The procedure has been developed rapidly over the past 4 months to ensure our clients are still able to participate in an audit program. It closely aligns with existing audit methodology, covering all the same aspects, such as environmentally sound practices, regulation safety, and legitimacy but is flexible enough to be expanded and altered for many other applications.

The audit utilises smart phone live stream applications to enable a virtual walk through of operational areas. Through the app, Equilibrium directs the site representative to live stream areas of potential concern based on previous audit reports and the most recent satellite imagery.

This process does not require any new technology or substantial equipment as it simply uses the site representative’s mobile device. There is potential depending on the app for the audit to be recorded as well, further adding evidence to the audit findings.

As per previous developed protocols, the audits are undertaken in combination and in parallel with data analysis and documentation reviews, allowing for much of the preliminary assessment to be completed online.

Unsure of when restrictions will ease or increase in any region, developing a protocol and capability to effectively carry out virtual audits is crucial to ensuring companies maintain compliance requirements, upholding the safety and sustainability of their operations.

If you are interested in discussing virtual audits, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Energy Saver for NSW Manufacturers

Assisting manufacturers to better manage their energy use and maximise efficiency is good for the environment and can contribute to improved business outcomes.

Equilibrium welcomes Round 2 of the NSW Government’s Energy Saver program and its focus on supporting manufacturers  to achieve new levels of energy efficiency. Programs such as Energy Saver provide a valuable stimulus for manufacturers to implement new energy saving technologies and processes that may otherwise be out of reach.

Manufacturers in NSW looking to implement new energy efficiency measures over the coming months should investigate any funding opportunities through the Manufacturing Efficiency Funding program. This is a timely initiative and can make a real difference for some companies wanting to save energy and improve operational efficiencies.

There are two co-funding offers available, and applications close 10 July 2020. Offers are limited to one project per site.

Offer 1: Metering and process optimisation

Up to $50,000 funding available for projects that can be completed within 18 months, and involve:

> installing metering and involve data analysis to identify faulty equipment
> installing sensors and controls to improve combustion efficiency
> fine-tuning equipment to operates more efficiently

Offer 2: Equipment upgrades

Up to $70,000 funding available for manufacturers to install or upgrade to more energy efficient equipment. Example projects may include:

> fuel switching
> bespoke heat recovery projects
> major chiller upgrades
> compressed air system modifications
> high efficiency equipment for new production lines or sites

If you are interested in the program and looking for support with applying or navigating the guidelines, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

For complete details on Energy Saver NSW look here.

Worksafe Victoria’s New Manslaughter Offences

Protecting the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people at every workplace is an essential activity that requires careful and systematic management.

The importance of effective workplace safety has been further highlighted with amendments to Victoria’s laws as they relate to manslaughter offences.

More specifically, the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 passed Parliament on 26 November 2019, is expected to come into effect in 1 July 2020.

Additional information about the new Worksafe Victoria laws can be found here.

So what are some of the key messages and changes?

> Penalties for safety and environmental breaches are getting tougher.

> New workplace safety laws in Victoria are to be introduced by July 1 2020.

> The commencement of new environmental regulations has been postponed by 12 months, now due to come into effect 1 July 2021.

> After 1 July 2020 workplace manslaughter will be a jailable offence up to 20 years. Fines will increase to $16.5million for a corporation.

> Businesses can be penalised under Environment and OHS laws if human health risks are not managed.

> Compliance with new safety and environment regulations involves ongoing monitoring and updating of risk management systems.

Worksafe expects organisations to eliminate or minimise OHS risks as far as is reasonably practicable, and the new EPA environmental regulations take a similar approach.

Organisations must keep their systems up to date with the ‘state of knowledge’ around business risks. The term ‘state of knowledge’ is used by both EPA Victoria and Worksafe Victoria, and effectively takes into account all the information a business (or any other organisation) should reasonably know about managing identified risks.

More information about the new EPA regulations can be found here.

It is up to all organisations to ensure that their workers are safe and that risks are managed wherever they may be working, including work conducted offsite and at other workplace premises.

Equilibrium staff are available to discuss how the new regulations may impact your business, and what you may to consider for ongoing compliance measures.

If you have any questions about the changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium on BH (03) 9372 5356.

Emerging environmental compliance in Victoria

The need for business transition

Protecting the environment is a major area of activity for governments and business, particularly as we face complex pollution and waste management issues that can affect human health and sensitive ecosystems.

The Victorian Government has been working systematically to modernise the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in order to meet Victoria’s environment and human health challenges. The government response to the EPA Inquiry details the suite of reforms for the overall transformation of the EPA to a world class environmental regulator. It is important to note that these are the first major reforms since the EPA was formed in 1971.

The implementation of the reforms seeks to ensure that the:

> EPA will protect Victorians’ health and their environment, preventing and reducing harmful effects of pollution and waste.

> EPA will deliver efficient, proportionate and consistent regulation which is vital for economic prosperity by ensuring Victoria is an attractive place to invest, work, live and visit.

In many respects, the reforms establish a stronger emphasis on preventing environmental harm and foreseeable hazards and risks.

Figure 1. Summary of the EPA reforms and business regulation
The need for businesses to be prepared

The process highlights the on-going need for businesses to identify compliance issues and risks and be ready to transition to new requirements in a timely and considered manner.

The Victorian Environment Protection Act has now been updated and includes new provisions for governance arrangements.

The reform agenda will also bring about significant changes as to how businesses and organisations will be regulated in regard to environmental risk. A key change is the introduction of a ‘General Duty’ that will be used to strengthen EPA capability to prevent environmental harm.

The introduction of a General Duty will involve the use of ‘Codes of Practice’, an approach that is already widely used within Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation and regulation. For example, in Victoria OHS Law and Code of Practice provides practical guidance on how to comply with relevant regulation. The VIC EPA now makes it clear that this approach provides a preferred model to apply in regard to environmental regulation in Victoria.

Adherence to Codes of Practice will certainly involve sites that require EPA Licensing and Works Approvals. Beyond such sites, the VIC EPA is looking to create a register of businesses with activities that have a regulatory significance.

Initially the register may be based on the dangerous goods notifications register managed by WorkSafe, which could involve up to 2,800 businesses. The EPA is also looking to register other businesses that have a potential higher risk profile, examples of which include dry cleaners, electroplaters, petrol stations and non-intensive agricultural businesses.

The range of activities requiring works approvals and licensing is also set to be expanded. The current recommendations involve potentially expanding licensing to:

> Waste companies
> Recyclers
> Transfer stations
> Agriculture based businesses

The EPA has put in place a five-year strategy to implement the reform recommendations.

Guidance and support for businesses

Helping companies to be prepared and ready for the reforms is an essential part of the process.

Equilibrium is well positioned to support businesses to assess and prepare for impending regulatory changes. Our depth of experience relating to environmental and OHS risk management is at the forefront when it comes to identifying and preventing harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.

Equilibrium’s knowledge of risk analysis and developing risk management strategies is founded on working to meet compliance requirements of Environmental and OHS regulations across Australia. Our experience covers leading projects across Australia.

Regular updates on reform implementation program are available at https://engage.vic.gov.au/reform-epa

More information

Contact Nicholas Harford for more information about Equilibrium’s services and how we can support your readiness for the reforms:

Nicholas Harford
Mobile: 0419 993 234  or  nick@equil.com.au

 

That’s Rubbish – Why Your Business Should Be Considering an EMS

Every organisation will have an impact on the environment. However you might be surprised to learn the extent of the environmental impact that your day-to-day operations are having. The costs to the environment and your bottom line are greater than you think.

Consider a small office-based organisation. Large amounts of paper may be printed from energy-hungry printers that do not have their default set to double-sided print. Lights and temperature control may be left on when not needed and staff air travel contributes not just to frequent flyer points, but also to global greenhouse emissions.

Fortunately there are ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your business that go beyond simply changing to eco-friendly light bulbs. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a long-term structured solution that can help your business manage its environmental impact while increasing business efficiency.

What is an Environmental Management System Exactly?

Just about every astute business will have an integrated financial management system in place that will help to monitor the financial performance of the company. Similarly, an EMS is a structured framework that monitors the environmental performance of a company and integrates environmental compliance into the daily operations of your business.

An EMS is a powerful tool for your business to simultaneously increase business efficiency while improving its environmental performance.

How can my business benefit by implementing an EMS?

Rather than being a passive bystander, an effective EMS will prompt your business to actively examine its practices. Reviewing your operations and activities to identify the environmental impact of your business may reveal that certain processes and equipment are chewing up more power or contributing more waste than you can afford.

An EMS will then guide you through the process of developing targets, responsibilities, priorities and actions that help to manage environmental impact in a way that is unique to your organisation.

Some of the benefits you can come to expect with a properly integrated EMS include:

> Maximising the efficient use of company resources;
> Reducing waste;
> Saving on utilities such as electricity and water;
> Creating environmentally sustainable company policies in purchasing and transport;
> Demonstrating a good corporate image while growing your customer base;
> Building staff engagement and awareness in environmental issues;
> Gaining a better understanding of the environmental impact of business activities;
> Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and minimising environmental liabilities.

What Next?

Equilibrium has worked with a large range of organisations of varying types and sizes to assess their need for an EMS and the likely costs and benefits. From logistics to offices, from telecommunications to retailers, Equilibrium has experience and insights that can efficiently and effectively indicate the benefits an EMS can deliver.