Risky business



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Risky business – a resource to help local governments manage environmental health risks

Risky business


Risky business: a resource to help local governments manage environmental health risks

November 2012

This guide has been endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and was prepared by the Environmental Health Standing Committee, enHealth.

Risky business – a resource to help local governments manage environmental health risks

ISBN: 978-1-74241-839-1

Online ISBN: 978-1-74241-840-7

Publications approval number: D0997

Draft by Beverley Kliger & Associates and Dr Chris Reynolds LLB.

Review by enHealth’s Environmental Health Workforce Working Group

For enHealth (Environmental Health Standing Committee) and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.

Copyright Statements:

Paper-based publications

© Commonwealth of Australia 2012

This work is copyright. You may reproduce the whole or part of this work in unaltered form for your own personal use or, if you are part of an organisation, for internal use within your organisation, but only if you or your organisation do not use the reproduction for any commercial purpose and retain this copyright notice and all disclaimer notices as part of that reproduction. Apart from rights to use as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 or allowed by this copyright notice, all other rights are reserved and you are not allowed to reproduce the whole or any part of this work in any way (electronic or otherwise) without first being given the specific written permission from the Commonwealth to do so. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights are to be sent to the Online, Services and External Relations Branch, Department of Health and Ageing, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, or via e-mail to copyright@health.gov.au.

Internet sites

© Commonwealth of Australia 2012

This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce the whole or part of this work in unaltered form for your own personal use or, if you are part of an organisation, for internal use within your organisation, but only if you or your organisation do not use the reproduction for any commercial purpose and retain this copyright notice and all disclaimer notices as part of that reproduction. Apart from rights to use as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 or allowed by this copyright notice, all other rights are reserved and you are not allowed to reproduce the whole or any part of this work in any way (electronic or otherwise) without first being given the specific written permission from the Commonwealth to do so. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights are to be sent to the Online, Services and External Relations Branch, Department of Health and Ageing, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, or via e-mail to copyright@health.gov.au.

Approved citation

Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth), Risky business – a resource to help local governments manage environmental health risks, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, Canberra, 2012.

Editorial assistance and graphic design by Biotext, Canberra

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing provided funding for the development of this guide.


Contents


Risky business 1

Contents 3

Tables 3


Figures 3

Executive summary 4

1.Responsibilities: what environmental health issues are your local government responsible for? 5

2.Roles: how does your local government manage environmental health? 5

3.Risks: what environmental health risks are there in your local area? 5

4.Severity: what are the likelihood and likely consequences of these risks? 5

5.Strategy: how can your local government reduce the risks to a manageable and acceptable level? 5

6.Action: how can your local government achieve these risk management actions? 5

Introduction 6

Overview of environmental health risk assessment 6

Whole-of-government approach 10

1 Local government’s environmental health responsibilities 12

1.1 Environmental responsibilities 12



1.Governance, which includes: 13

7.Safety and protection of public health, which encompasses planning, managing and monitoring numerous illness-, infection- or disease-causing activities carried out in the local government area by business, industry and community organisations. Activities in this area include food safety, vector control, animal management, swimming pool monitoring, personal services and the oversight of immunisation. 13

8.Water quality, which involves monitoring and managing recreational water and water supplies, and transport of water, to reduce the possibility of pollution, contamination, infection or illness. 13

9.Environmental management, which involves minimising pollution and contamination, and the protection and management of environmental health. It includes the development of local plans, policies and programs to promote sustainability and prevent degradation of air, water and land. It also aims to maximise the safety of the natural and built environment, both domestic and industrial, and the health of residents and visitors. 13

10.Waste management, which involves planning, managing and monitoring waste collection and disposal to minimise/avoid adverse impacts on the environment. 13

11.Land use planning and development, which encompasses the development and assessment of plans, policies and programs to ensure the safety of proposals for development of the natural or built environment. 13

12.Disaster and emergency management, which involves planning for and managing potential disasters and emergencies, and developing an appropriate range of responses that minimise negative impacts on public and/or environmental health and safety. 13

1.2 Accountability and legal liability 14

1.2.1 Liability of local governments for negligence: general principles 14

1.2.2 Failure to exercise a statutory power and a duty of care 15

1.2.3 Liability in special circumstances 16

1.2.4 The special position of local governments 18



1.State/territory civil liability legislation passed around 2002 makes particular reference to public authorities (defined to include a local local government, government department or statutory authority). These Acts establish general principles of negligence and the assessment of damages. They also address issues particularly relevant to local governments, including: 18

13.Specific exclusions of liability also typically apply to officers acting in good faith (whether or not they are personally negligent). However, in these instances, the public authority or local government may still be liable. Exclusions of liability can also apply for particular statutory officers exercising specified powers, and each state/territory Act can exclude liability of authorities or statutory officers as it considers appropriate. For example, s. 24 Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides that the provision of any information or advice concerning drinking water, made by the Chief Health Officer in good faith for the purpose of executing this Act, does not subject the state, the Minister for Health, NSW Health or any officer ‘to any action, liability, claim or demand’. 19

1.2.5 Summary and checklist 19



2 Local government’s environmental health role 21

2.1 Environmental health role 21



3 Local environmental health risks 26

3.1 Risk categories guide 26

3.2 Risk consequence and impact rating guide 26

1.minor 26

14.low 26

15.moderate 26

16.high 26

17.extreme. 26

4 Severity of environmental health risks 31

4.1 Risk likelihood guide 31

4.2 Risk matrix 32

5 Local government risk evaluation strategy 33

5.1 Risk evaluation process 33

5.2 Stage 1: Inherent enterprise risk assessment 34

5.3 Stage 2: Risk treatment options and revised risk assessment 42

5.4 Stage 3: Document treatments 49

5.5 Monitoring risk and continuous improvement 51



6 Delivery options 52

6.1 Workforce 52

6.1.1 The importance of a skilled workforce 52

6.1.2 Workforce shortages 53

6.2 Delivery options 54

6.2.1 Working collaboratively 54

6.2.2 Outsourcing and contracting expert advice and/or support 56

6.2.3 Using a separate organisation to perform works 56

6.2.4 Employing environmental health technicians 57

6.2.5 Maximising local government’s in-house capacity 58

6.3 Improving workforce attraction and retention 58

Resources and references 60

Local government environmental health enterprise responsibility 60

Risk assessment and management 60

Workforce issues 61



Glossary 62

Consultation participants 64

Appendix: Case studies 66

False economy costs local government: Brookland Greens landfill 66

Analysis and implications 66

Lax regulation processes can be fatal: the Garibaldi food poisoning outbreak 67

Outline of the case and key issues 67

Analysis and implications 67

Shelling out the money: Graham Barclay Oysters v. Ryan (2002)—the Wallis Lake case 68

Analysis and implications 69

Deaths in Brunswick: coronial investigation into the death of Leigh Sarah Sinclair and the importance of integrating inspectorial skills 69

Analysis and implications 70






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