Under Victoria’s environmental regulatory regime which came into effect on 1st July 2021, the focus has been shifted from a reactive to a prevention-based approach, underpinned by the new General Environmental Duty (GED). The GED is a positive duty to proactively identify and manage environmental risk and is a shared responsibility of all Victorians.
“A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to the risk of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable.”
The GED is intended to be enduring, flexible and fill regulatory gaps where no specific requirement exists in current legislation. For example, specific practices or technologies do not have to be identified upfront and the duty can apply to new hazards that emerge in the future.
According to the GED, the first step to determine what’s reasonably practicable in relation to the minimisation of risks is to identify the potential hazards or risks of harm that might exist or could come into existence.
A breach or a threatened breach of the GED will trigger the Environment Protection Authority (EPA)’s capacity to issue a notice, such as improvement and prohibition notices or notices to investigate and environment action notices, so that the problem can be remedied quickly.
There are additional penalties if the breach of the General Environmental Duty is aggravated, meaning it is intentional or reckless:
All businesses are required to ensure compliance with the GED such as risk identification, risk assessment and risk mitigation. Helia EHS provides consultation on the EP Act 2017 and businesses’ obligations including:
Helia EHS can develop and provide training and education programs covering a broad range of topics and audiences:
External communication can encourage adherence to your GED with more precision by:
Taking preventative action will protect businesses against potentially significant costs for serious breaches in the future.
To find out more about the General Environmental Duty (GED) and your responsibilities under the EP Act 2017, contact Helia EHS today.