Site Establishment and Environmental Obligations: three areas to consider

Environmental issues have become big news in the past decade and the implications for the construction industry are significant.

Tougher laws and more serious penalties have been introduced in a bid to discourage behaviour that might negatively impact the environment.

Being aware of these laws and rules will not only help protect the environment, it will also save your hip pocket by avoiding hefty penalties. It pays to be familiar with the primary piece of legislation responsible for environmental issues: The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (POEO).

Here are the three main environmental issues you need to consider when carrying out a construction project: 


1. Noise

There is a common misconception that noise creation isn’t a big issue. Try telling that to businesses who have been slapped with multi-million dollar fines, or even had equipment seized for breaking noise laws.

There are tough restrictions on noisy equipment, with Regulation 50 of the POEO Act limiting the use of power tools to between 7am and after 8pm, and 8am and 8pm on Sundays and Pubic Holidays.

Breaching this rule will firstly result in a warning, but further breaches can lead to fines up to $11,000 for a corporation, or $5,500 for individuals. 

There are alternative ways of dealing with noise that can be even more costly, possibly resulting in fines up to $5 million, the seizure of equipment, or even jail for willful and negligent behaviour.


2. Land Pollution and waste

Disposing of waste is routine in the construction industry, but when it comes to cleaning up there is no place for complacency or corner-cutting. Using the proper channels for disposing of waste is not only a responsible way of doing business, it could prevent you copping enormous fines. Transporting and dumping waste at a public place is an offense under section 143 of the POEO Act. If caught, both the owner of the waste and the person transporting it are liable and can be slapped with fines up to $250,000 for an individual or $1,000,000 for a corporation.


3. Littering

Littering is not only annoying and unsightly, it can also have a big impact on the environment, nearby residents and even animals.  Those caught littering in or on a public place are dealt with under section 145 of the POEO Act, regardless of whether the actions affect land or water. The offense becomes aggravated if the littering causes harm to people, animals, property, or was reasonably likely to cause harm. An individual caught littering can be slapped with a $330 fine, while for a corporation the penalty jumps to $550.


The module Blueprint CPD module Site Establishment and Environmental Obligations counts towards your CPD points requirement for your builders licence.