Saving money by spending on environment health and safety – Part 1 of a 3 part series.

The overwhelming evidence shows that spending money on EHS compliance will save you money.

Did you know that you will achieve an immediate positive return on EHS investment the moment you start because EHS success can also be measured by what doesn’t happen: Fines, Legal Sanctions, Injuries, Pollution, Lawsuits, Negative Press, Reputation Damage, Lost Business and Market Share.

The legal requirements alone present a clear business case for EHS investment because managers and EHS decision makers in your business have a primary duty to ensure the health and safety of workers and to not pollute or harm the environment.

  • In 2019 a company owner in Queensland was jailed when a worker was killed after being caught in an unguarded conveyor belt.
  • Employers whose conduct is seen to cause the death of a worker can now be charged with the offence of industrial manslaughter.
  • New maximum penalties – The maximum penalties for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment of an individual and $10 million for a body corporate (an employer).
  • In 2018 in Queensland a Director of an electrical company was sentenced to 7 years jail for industrial manslaughter and 2 years for perjury after an apprentice was electrocuted.
  • In January 2018 the EPA fined a landscaping company $15,000 for the inappropriate storage of chemicals after above ground tanks including drums, chemical containers and intermediate bulk containers containing oil, solvents and transmission fluids were stored in the workshop without bunding or spill containment.
  • In May 2018 a company Director was fined $54,000 for storing chemicals in a position so that they could leak into the environment and cause environmental harm. The EPA said, “We believe that environmental offences need to be recognised as the serious criminal offences that they are, and this case reinforces that the EPA will hold company directors responsible, not just for their own actions but also those of their employees and companies. Our legislation allows us to pursue the directors of a company and we will do that where appropriate.”
  • In May 2017, the EPA fined a company $30,000 for inappropriate storage of waste and also fined a Director of the company $7,500 for not acting with due diligence to prevent or halt the breaches.
  • A Sydney business was fined $360,000 for breaching workplace safety laws and its Director was fined $60,000 for exposing a worker to a risk of death or serious injury.
  • There was 1 serious workplace injury every 5 minutes in Australia last year and the average payment was $11,700.

Concerning trends that are associated with the golf, sports turf, grounds maintenance and hospitality sector.

For the first time, the grounds maintenance sector made the top 10 most dangerous occupations in the USA debuting at Number 3 with 217 deaths in 2016. Other data included:

  • Deaths from exposure to harmful substances or environments rose 22%;
  • Fatal work injuries from falls, slips, or trips continued an upward trend increasing 6%;
  • Death from falls increased more than 25% in 2016 for tree trimming and pruning;
  • The following work recorded their highest fatality counts in 2016 since data collection commenced in 2003:
    • landscaping and grounds keeping;
    • tree trimming and pruning;
    • automotive service technicians and mechanics.
  • Fatal injuries in the leisure and hospitality sector were up 32% (225 to 298) and reached an all-time series high in 2016. This was largely due to a 40% increase in fatal injuries in the food services industry from 118 to 165.
  • Fatalities in the food preparation and serving related occupations increased 64%.

In Part 2 of this series we will provide an overview of the Productivity and Efficiency Savings you can achieve from an effective environment, health and safety program.