The Importance of Construction Environmental Management Plan Auditing

Construction Environmental Management Plans such as an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) or a Construction EMP (CEMP) are a critical component of construction projects in Australia (especially those related to major infrastructure such as road, bridge, rail, etc). The purpose of the EMP is to identify and manage potential environmental impacts associated with the construction activities. Auditing the CEMP ensures compliance with environmental compliance obligations (from local to federal). Our clients range from construction companies themselves for their own purposes (for their private clients) and/or for government requirements such as Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV). Here is a general guide on auditing a CEMP for infrastructure projects in Australia:

  1. Compliance Framework:

  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant environmental compliance obligations in Australia, whether it’s the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, state-specific legislation and/or local council guidelines.
  • Ensure that the CEMP aligns with these compliance obligations (this should have already been done before Helia EHS begins auditing but we can also prepare CEMPs).
  1. Initial Document (CEMP, etc) Reviews and Preparation of an Audit Checklist:

  • Review the CEMP to understand its scope, objectives, and strategies for managing environmental impacts.
  • Review any other documents given like sub-plans which tend to focus on focussed environmental aspects such as waste management, water quality, air quality, etc.
  • Check if the CEMP includes a comprehensive list of potential environmental impacts associated with the construction project that Helia is auditing.
  • Start preparing an audit protocol (or checklist) that we can bring out to site to conduct the audit based on personnel interviews, data review like monitoring results, etc and site observations)
  1. Risk Assessment/Auditing:

  • Ensure that the CEMP includes a comprehensive risk assessment of potential environmental impacts. This should cover aspects such as soil erosion, water quality, noise pollution, and habitat disturbance/protection through to rehabilitation of any disturbed areas. We would look at these aspects whilst undertaking the audit.
  • We’re upfront with findings throughout the audit as we don’t want any surprises for our client at the end of the audit.
  1. Monitoring and Reporting checking during the Audit:

  • Check if the CEMP outlines a monitoring and reporting framework to track the actual environmental performance against the planned measures (i.e. objectives and targets).
  • Confirm that there are mechanisms for reporting incidents and any non-compliances with the EMP and how any incidents, non-conformances, etc are addressed to prevent re-occurrences.
  1. Training and Awareness:

  • Verify that the CEMP includes suitable and adequate (human) resources to implement compliant environmental management practices throughout the construction project.
  • Confirm the existence of awareness programs to educate workers about their roles in minimising environmental impacts.
  1. Continual Improvement:

  • Typically, our biggest value lies to not audit in a “policing” manner but to provide value when auditing, especially when findings are not compliant against adopted environmental criteria. That is, we can usually reference what we have observed through our experiences in other similar projects if asked about how to rectify such findings.
  • Recommend improvements to the EMP based on the findings of the audit.
  • Emphasise the importance of continual improvement in environmental management practices as this is usually written into the overarching environmental management system of the construction organisation that we are auditing.
  1. Audit Reporting:

  • Prepare an audit report that highlights findings, areas/degrees of compliance (often showing a finding ‘score’ which can be easily compared against in future audits and helps our client in prioritising improvement actions), and recommendations for improvement.
  • Submit the report to the client.


Always keep in mind that specific requirements may vary depending on the state or territory in Australia, and it’s crucial to be familiar with local compliance obligations. Consulting with environmental experts like Helia EHS and regulatory authorities can provide additional insights and ensure a thorough audit process.

Helia EHS has offices in Melbourne and Adelaide and is highly experienced in Environmental Management Plans and Construction Environmental Management Plan auditing. Contact us here to discuss your requirements and find out how we can assist you with your projects.

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