Polluted water

GUEST ARTICLE: Critical Compliance – how to avoid getting prosecuted for a water pollution event

  • 23 Jul 2020

Compliance with the law is not optional, it is mandatory and there are significant financial implications for any construction company found to be in breach of it. The releasing of polluting water into a watercourse is still deemed as a risk worth taking by some people, however, as the regulatory bodies issue more and more fines, the muddy waters are becoming clearer and the message of ‘Zero Harm to the Environment’ is getting through.

This article sees Tristan Hughes, UK Sales Manager at Siltbuster, talk about how organisations can respect their obligations when it comes to the management of waterborne contaminants and what measures need to be implemented to ensure critical compliance.

“Most pollution events that occur nowadays aren’t deliberate, but instead are a result of recklessness or negligence. An act of recklessness is a ‘failure by an organisation to put in place and enforce such systems as could be reasonably expected in all circumstances to avoid commission of the offence’.

The ruling of negligence would find an organisation ‘failing as a whole to take reasonable care to put in place and enforce proper systems for avoiding commission of the offence’.

The sentencing guidelines allow judges to make quick, informed decisions, safe in the knowledge that they’re being consistent with their peers in the judicial system.

Underpinning this guideline, is the notion there is no economic gain by not having the correct systems in place to prevent harm to the environment.

Despite this, dismissive attitudes are still far too common on construction sites. The ‘what does it matter, it’s only silty water’ school of thought is still very much present.

This isn’t through blatant disregard for the law, it’s due to a reliance on old practices and a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach.

However, this lack of understanding is worrying, especially given how damaging silt can be to an aquatic ecosystem and the reliance we will have on this resource in years to come.

Therefore, educating workforces about the significant threat of polluting water is one of the most important things that can be done to avoid getting prosecuted for a water pollution event.

Safety stand-down days are common on construction sites, thought of as an essential means of developing good health and safety practices.

Now it is time for environmental days to been seen as having equal significance. Workers should be taught about means to protect the environment, and introduced to systems that can be implemented to avoid work-based environmental issues.

An educated workforce is the key to successfully managing water pollution on construction sites and ensuring critical compliance, plus added resilience, all necessary if you want to prevent being prosecuted.”

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