Environmental risks to business
Environmental risks that may affect your business include:
- extreme temperatures and climate change
- floods, fires and natural disasters
- increases in costs, particularly around energy and water usage, and waste management
- water restrictions.
Extreme weather and your employees
Extreme weather, including extreme heat/cool, hail, strong winds or natural disasters such as fire or flood may affect your business. It's important you not only plan for these events, but also understand your employer obligations to employees in managing extreme weather conditions. While the Fair Work Act 2009 doesn't have specific leave entitlements for employees who can't go to work due to extreme weather conditions or other natural disasters, you may have entitlements under your award or agreement.
As an employer, you’re legally obliged to provide a safe working environment and keep your employees safe during extreme weather events or disasters. Heat-related illnesses happen when the body cannot cope with high temperatures. Workplace accidents and injuries are more common during hot weather.
Signs of heat-related illness in the workplace include:
- heat stroke
Tips to prevent heat-related illness or injuries
You can prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries in your workplace by:
- rescheduling physical work to cooler times of the day
- wearing lighter coloured, loose clothing that still provides safety protection
- providing cool drinking water
- reducing the time spent doing harder tasks
- providing extra rest breaks in a cool area and encouraging your employees to take more breaks
- using mechanical aids to reduce physical effort
- supplying sunscreen for employees working outdoors
- giving workers information and training to help manage heat-related fatigue and illness.
Climate change could affect Australian businesses by altering long-term weather patterns. Climate change mitigation is about lowering our carbon emissions so that we can minimise the impacts of climate change in the future. A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, a family, a business or a country.
Tips to limit your business's carbon emissions
You can reduce your business's carbon footprint by making changes to your business activities, including:
- relying less on raw materials and recycling and using recycled products where possible to minimise waste
- making sure you are efficient in the way you use energy and water
- using and/or producing 'green' or eco-friendly goods and services.
Visit our Tools & resources page for online tools, calculators, guides and databases to help you make your business sustainable. These can help you reduce or offset your carbon footprint.
There are a range of grants and assistance available across federal, state and territory, and local government levels to support your environmental efforts. Visit our Environmental grants & assistance page to search for these.
What to do...
- Read our Emergency management topic for tools, resources and templates to help you develop an Emergency management and recovery plan.
- Read WorkSafe Victoria's Working in the heat guide for tips on preventing heat-related illness.
- Head to the South Australia Health website for more resources to help your workplace Stay healthy in the heat.
- Employers and employees can understand their rights and responsibilities, and seek further advice by visiting the Fair Work website. You can contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.