At the moment I am watching Senator Penny Wong releasing the Australian government’s green paper into climate change reduction, focussing on an emissions trading scheme. Some OHS professionals have disputed the relationship between environmental management and safety management. In practice there has always been an overlap in the disciplines and increasingly in management pocesses, auditing and standards.
The Green Paper has a direct OHS impact in the mining industry where fugitive emissions now need to be measured for climate change purposes as well as for health and safety compliance. Section 5.4 of the Summary of Preferred Positions states
The following sources would have minimum standards for emissions estimation methodologies imposed from the commencement of the scheme:
* electricity sector emissions (as required for the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and the Generator Efficiency Standards program)
* perfluorocarbon emissions (from aluminium production, as is current business practice and used for the National Greenhouse Accounts)
* fugitive emissions from underground coal mines (as currently mandated by state safety regulations for the large majority of mines).
The issue of climate change and the government’s emphasis on business impacts means that we need to reassess some of our amentiies, facilities and work methods to accommodate increased risks from climate change. The Green Paper describes several ways that climate change will change how we work. For instance when assessing the integrity of our building facilities we need to reconsider the structural tolerances as the report says
In our built environment, a 25 per cent increase in wind gust speed can lead to a 550 per cent increase in damage costs for buildings, with risks to human safety, largely because building or engineering standards have been exceeded.
Business continuity is going to undergo a revolution in criteria to be considered far beyond what we experienced with increased terrorist risks.