How to clean up oil spills and satisfy regulations

SpillPro on 24 February 2017

Australian regulations for workplace oil spills

In Australia, workplace oil spills are covered by a business' due diligence as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Businesses are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent and prepare for oil spills. This includes ensuring that the appropriate equipment and training has been provided.

Should injury or significant damage to property or environment occur as a result of a workplace oil spill, the incident may go to court.

In the courtroom, a judge will examine whether all possible steps were taken to prevent the oil spill from spreading. As well as whether the spill was cleaned up promptly, using sufficient equipment.

If it is deemed, to the standards of a reasonable person, that a business did not fulfil their due diligence in providing the appropriate training, equipment, and response, then that business may be liable for damages. This can include compensation such as personal injury claims.

Industries this covers

Workplace due diligence covers all industries that use or store hydrocarbons or chemicals on site.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Workshops and automotive
  • Transport and shipping
  • Mining, oil and gas
  • Hospitals and defence
  • Councils and utilities

In all these industries and others, businesses may be required to have some form of plan and preparation regarding workplace oil spills.

How to satisfy Australian regulations for workplace oil spills

To demonstrate due diligence relating to workplace oil spills, businesses need to show that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the following.

Businesses must show that they've:

  1. Acquired and updated their knowledge of workplace oil spills
  2. Understood the operations being carried out as well as the associated risks
  3. Supplied appropriate resources to minimise the spill risk
  4. Implemented processes to promptly respond to any spills

It is essential that all four steps be taken. If even one is missed then it could be argued in court that all reasonable actions were not taken to prevent damage or injuries because of oil spills.

Equipment for preventing and preparing for workplace oil spills

Oil and fuel spill kits are one of the most common spill preparation devices used by businesses.

They are colour-coded containers which hold the equipment required to ensure businesses satisfy Australian regulations for workplace oil spills.

Typically included are:

  • Containment booms for stopping the spread of oil
  • Absorbents for soaking up oil
  • Waste disposal bags for disposing of oil and cleanup equipment
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protecting cleaners

Other equipment such as dispersants and spill containers may be required, depending on your specific industry, business, and application.

While these devices are typically intuitive, training is needed to ensure all employees know how to use them effectively. Otherwise, they may not be used properly and spills may not be completely contained.

What can I do to ensure my workplace is compliant?

At SpillPro, we offer full site audits in regards to oil spills.

We can inspect your place of work and assess its potential for spills. We'll also identify danger areas and spaces where spill response devices can be effectively implemented.

The goal of these audits is to ensure that you're aware of spill hot spots and which spill equipment is needed to satisfy Australian regulations for workplace oil spills.

An environmental site audit is the best way for you to understand your business' spill prevention and preparation requirements and what you can do to fulfil them.

"In the courtroom, a judge will examine whether all possible steps were taken to prevent the oil spill from spreading."

Thinking spills? Think SpillPro.

At SpillPro, we've been leading the market with spill prevention and cleanup technologies for more than 40 years. And over that time we've built our reputation on complete solutions and tailored service.

We'll help you to meet Australian regulations for workplace oil spills. We can also make sure that your business is always prepared for spills, when and where they occur.

Learn more on our spill kits page or call 1800 368 450