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Add these two water quality hazards to your continuous risk assessment and you'll satisfy your environmental responsibilities set by the OHSA...

by , 05 April 2013
If your business has been polluting the environment, best you watch out. An Indian court has just fined British resources giant Vedanta close to $20 million for pollution thanks to emissions from its huge copper smelter. But it's not just the big mining companies that need to worry about these issues. Because it's your duty to protect the environment to ensure your company complies with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. Here are two water hazards to look out for in a continuous risk assessment.

Vedanta's pollution worries just won't go away.
 
It's just had a "toxic" gas leak, which caused breathing, throat and eye problems among residents.
 
Now, it faces the possibility of closing its copper smelter entirely to protect Mother Nature from "unabated air and water pollution", says The Global Post.
 
These environmental concerns have spread to South Africa too, with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) receiving 144 complaints in the past two years about problems with the quality and supply of water, says Fin24.
 
That's why the Department of Labour has started to take water contamination seriously by imposing heavy fines on companies that fail to comply with the environmental regulations or provisions set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
 
So you need to do a continuous risk assessment to minimise any actions in your business that have the potential to harm the environment. 
 
Because every small act of pollution adds up.
 
Water quality hazard 1: Pollution from using chemicals cleaning agents
 
For example, if your business is using a new brand of cleaning agent, you should assess the impact on the environment when you pour the product down the drain before you even purchase it, suggests the University of Melbourne.
 
But it's not just pollution that affects our water resources.
 
There's also a severe shortage of water.
 
In fact, FSP Business reports that by 2015, 80% of South Africa's fresh water resources will be so badly polluted that no process of purification available in the country will be able to make it fit for consumption.

That's just two years away!
 
Water quality hazard 2: Letting clean water drip away down the drain
 
And up to 50% of all tap water is being wasted or simply leaking away every year in South Africa, says Bizcommunity.
 
Identifying leaking taps in your office bathrooms is a great way to save water, so make sure it forms part of your health and safety officers' continuous risk assessment.
 

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