Assessing Environmental Risk as a Business

Environmental Risk: “Actual or potential threat of adverse effects on living organisms and the environment by effluents, emissions, wastes, resource depletion, etc., arising out of an organization’s activities.” 

Environmental Risk Assessments

You don’t know what you don’t know. This is a saying that we’ve all heard once or twice before. When it comes to looking at your business and determining what environmental regulations and policies are relevant to it; how do you know what you don’t know? Are there regulations that you should be following that you just don’t know to exist? Are you unaware that the potential environmental impacts from your business are required to be reported and documented?  

Now You Know

For example, did you know that in Canada bakeries are required to report under the National Pollutant Release Inventory System. This may come as a surprise, as a bakery does not seem like a typical business that would pose the potential to create pollutants through the use, release and disposal of potentially harmful substances. 

With updated regulations and efforts to protect and conserve the environment, it is important for your business to be aware of the likelihood of it causing harm to the environment. As well, you must have an action plan in place in the event that it does.

The best way to do this is to conduct an environmental risk assessment. This assessment will break down and dig deep into the likelihood, nature, and magnitude of possible environmental risks that your business may face.

Does My Business Need an ERA?

So, does your business really need an environmental risk assessment? The answer could depend on how prepared you feel in the case of events sucha as these, for example; a diesel spill in your warehouse parking lot, or a leak from an underground storage tank that you find is contaminating the nearby drinking water source of your rural neighbors, etc. The list goes on!

The objective of an environmental risk assessment is to inform decisions and become a reference for future decision making. It will identify any potential long-term hazards, illustrate the potential harm, and evaluate the risk of occurrence while identifying a precautionary plan to manage any environmental impacts in the future. 

Determining Factors

When considering if your business may benefit from an environmental risk assessment, consider the following: 

  • How is waste stored and disposed of at your workplace?  
  • What are the common dust and other substances being released into the air as emissions? 
  • What is the proximity of your workplace to a body of water? 
  • Are the surrounding land uses particularly vulnerable? 
  • What is the condition and age of any aboveground or belowground storage tanks or pipes at your workplace? 

Take a minute to think about the future implications that your business could pose to the environment, and what a headache it may cause. It can be helpful to your business, your people, and the overall environment when you take an Environmental Risk Assessment into consideration!

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts – or contact our team below!

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