General environmental duty

General environmental duty


"A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable."

The general duty is a new concept for Victoria's environment protection laws and transforms environment protection regulation.

General duty based regulation sits at the heart of occupational health and safety laws throughout Australia. It is an approach that is widely supported by the business community.

Complying with the general duty is a conceptually simple three-step process:

  1. The duty holder needs to understand the risks that pollution or waste from their activities might present to human health or the environment.
  2. The ways those risks can be controlled need to be identified and understood.
  3. Duty holders are required to put in place any reasonably practicable measures to reduce the likelihood of the possible harm arising.

Considerations for reasonable practicability include:

  • likelihood
  • consequence
  • state of knowledge
  • availability and suitability
  • cost elimination or reduction.

The general environmental duty will apply to any person or company conducting an activity which poses risks to human health or the environment from pollution or waste. Learn more about the new laws and how we all have a duty to prevent harm.


Page last updated on 17 May 2019