“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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