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Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites

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This document is designed to provide developers and contractors with guidelines on how to implement sound practices that minimize environmental impacts and eliminate health risks and nuisance to residents near a construction site.
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Content Preview
Best Practice Environmental Management
Environmental Guidelines for Major
Construction Sites


Environmental Guidelines for
Major Construction Sites

Environment Protection Authority
477 Collins Street, Melbourne
Victoria 3000 AUSTRALIA
February 1996
ISBN

CONTENTS
Preface ....................................................................................................................................... v
1
Purpose and application........................................................................................................ 1
2
Pre-construction planning and design .................................................................................... 2
2.1 Environmental assessment
2.2 Risk assessment
2.3 Risk management
3
Environmental management plan........................................................................................... 8
3.1 Environment management plan
3.2 Best practice documents
3.3 Segment environmental control plan
4
Land disturbance.................................................................................................................. 11
4.1 Erosion
4.2 Management of contaminated stormwater
4.3 Designing erosion and sediment control devices
4.4 De-watering work sites
4.5 Dust control
4.6 Management of stockpiles and batters
4.7 Working in waterways and floodplains
5
Noise and vibration .............................................................................................................. 22
5.1 Operating hours
5.2 Vehicles and equipment
5.3 Traffic
5.4 Noise abatement
5.5 Vibration
6
Waste minimisation .............................................................................................................. 24
7
Contaminated material and wastes ........................................................................................ 25
7.1 Solid inert wastes
7.2 Putrescible wastes
7.3 Low-level contaminated soil
7.4 Prescribed wastes
8
Other environmental issues ................................................................................................... 27
8.1 Emergency procedures
8.2 Air quality
8.3 Litter
8.4 Storage of chemicals and fuel
8.5 Road cleaning
8.6 Protecting infrastructure
8.7 Concrete batching plants
9
Inspections, monitoring and audits ........................................................................................ 30
9.1 Inspections
9.2 Monitoring
9.3 Auditing
Appendix: Check-list
35

FOREWORD
Major construction projects, such as roads and freeways, are important to Victoria's economic
development. During construction, however, such projects pose a significant risk to the environment,
which must be addressed by developers and contractors.
Construction practices that fail to control pollution can cause damage to waterways and wetlands, kill
fish, upset aquatic ecological systems and wildlife communities, and result in contamination of land and
groundwater. The risk to the environment is particularly high when work is done near coastal areas,
streams and creeks, or along a river valley. When construction occurs near built-up areas, poor
practices may result in air and noise pollution which may cause annoyance and affect the health of
neighbouring communities.
This document is designed to provide developers and contractors with guidelines on how to implement
sound practices that minimise environmental impacts and eliminate health risks and nuisance to
residents near a construction site.
There are also sound economic reasons for implementing good environmental practices during major
construction projects. Excessive sedimentation of waterways can cause flooding, require expensive
dredging of navigation channels downstream or reduce the capacity of downstream water storage units,
destroy valuable wetlands, and reduce commercial and recreational fishing. On-site, loss of topsoil
means importation of replacement topsoil at substantial cost. Where construction activities cause a
nuisance, this places a cost on the community through loss of amenity.
Construction sites are constantly changing, and systems need to be in place to modify control measures
to maintain their effectiveness. Therefore, frequent inspection and monitoring is required to continually
check the effectiveness of measures.
I would encourage all companies involved in the design and construction of major roads and
development projects to use these Guidelines.
Best Practice Environmental Management publications are produced by Environment Protection
Authority (EPA) to encourage a pro-active approach to environmental management by industry.
EPA would be pleased to receive comments on these Guidelines from the construction industry and
other interested parties.
Brian Robinson
Chairman
Environment Protection Authority

1 PURPOSE AND APPLICATION
The Environmental Guidelines for major
Many of the measures proposed in the
Construction Sites provides a useful source
Guidelines are also applicable to smaller
document to help prepare and implement a
construction sites (less than five hectares) and
environmental management plan for major
should be used where appropriate to avoid and
constructions sites.
minimise impact from such activities.
The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide
The Guidelines do not refer to State legislation,
developers, contractors and government
regulations or environmental policies.
agencies involved with commissioning or
Developers, contractors and subcontractor,
constructing freeways, major roads or major
when they are used, must make themselves
development projects with:
aware of their legal obligations because they
are responsible for compliance.
• information how to avoid and minimise
environmental impact, which is preferable
Legislative requirements and standards are
to the less cost-effective option of
minimium standards, and projects should
controlling or treating discharges to the
endeavour to continually improve on these
environment, or undertaking remedial
standards.
action.
• information on the likely impact of
construction activities on the environment
and how this is to be assessed
• guidelines for undertaking risk assessment
and management
• a clear statement of environmental
performance objectives for each segment of
the environment
• suggested best practice environmental
measures to meet the performance
objectives based on available experience
The Guidelines provide contractors and
developers with a framework within which due
diligence obligations can be met and
environmental damage can be avoided.
The Guidelines are not prescriptive or detailed.
Application will require tailoring them to
particular site conditions and making
adjustments if the measures listed are
inappropriate to the site.
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
1 Page 1

2 PRE-CONSTRUCTION PLANNING AND DESIGN
Integrating environment protection at the
The assessment should not only consider the
project planning stage ensures that measures to
environmental impacts on a site, but whether or
avoid and minimise pollution can be built into
not off-site effects are possible.
the project design and work schedule. This
approach is more cost-effective than
An initial assessment of the site should be
establishing controls once the project
conducted to identify sensitive environmental
commences.
areas or uses that require protection. These may
include:
Once a site has been selected, it is necessary to
conduct an environment assessment that
• sensitive or endangered flora and fauna
identifies which parts of the environment may
be vulnerable to damage from construction
• aquatic plants and animals, if a natural
activities.
waterway is affected
Making a risk assessment is a useful way in
• groundwater recharge areas
which to approach this aspect of site
management. Environmental risk deals with the
Depending on whether or not the construction
probability of an event causing an undesirable
site is near houses, schools or hospitals, the
effect. There are three elements to consider
impact of air discharges, noise and vibration on
when defining risk1. They are:
the health and amenity of adjacent residents will
need to be included in the assessment.
• a time frame over which the risk or risks
are being considered
Once the project has been approved, but before
construction commences, it is important to
• a probability of the occurrence of one or
initiate an environmental monitoring program to
more events
collect baseline data on all sectors of the
environment.
• a measure of the consequences of those
events
Based on the site assessment, project design
information and the construction work
program, a risk assessment of all aspects of the
project can be executed. This assessment in
turn leads to a strategy to manage all significant
risks to the environment.
2.1 Environmental assessment
Understanding which segments of the
environment are vulnerable is a prerequisite to
identifying and managing environmental risks.

1
T. Beer & F. Ziolkowski, Environmental
risk assessment: an Australian perspective,
Supervising Scientist Report 102, 1995.
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
Page 2

Details of the project design and the work
program are also needed.
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
The assessment allows significant risks to be
Objective
identified so that they can be targeted for
To identify or obtain information on any
action.
relevant environmental impact that the
construction project may cause.
This initial risk assessment needs to be
regularly reviewed. An ongoing risk assessment
is therefore an integral part of the
Suggested measures
Environmental Management System (see
• Identify sensitive environmental areas or
section 3.1). This involves a review of existing
uses that may be affected by construction
risks and identification of new risks detected
activities.
through the surveillance or monitoring
program.
• Identify whether residents adjacent to the
site could be affected by pollution from
Risk assessment can be divided into six steps.
construction activities or suffer reduced
amenity.
Information gathering
• Monitor baseline air and water quality and
A risk assessment requires information about
ambient noise levels adjacent to the
site conditions. This information is used in
construction site.
conjunction with information collected during
the environmental assessment (see section 2.1).
• Conduct an assessment of expected noise
The following information needs to be collected
levels from construction activities which
before construction commences:
may affect the surrounding community.

• a map of soil types and their erosion
Conduct a desk study to identify potentially
potential
contaminated sites in the construction area,
and sample and analyse soils that are

suspected of being contaminated before
climate, weather patterns and stream flows
construction commences.
• topography and natural geographic features
(including whether site is in a floodplain)
• the construction schedule
2.2 Risk assessment
• changes to the topography of the site during
Risk assessment is defined as the identification
each stage of the project
and characterisation of the nature of existing
and potential adverse effects to humans and the
• a map of existing vegetation identifying
environment resulting from exposure to
areas to be retained
environmental hazards.
• details of areas of cleared land at each
Risk is a function of the probability of an event
stage of the development, and period of
occurring and the degree of damage that would
time that each section will be exposed
result should it happen.
• changes to drainage and identification of
Information from the environment assessment is
sources of clean and contaminated
required in order to conduct a risk assessment.
stormwater
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
Page 3

• calculation of stormwater flows within
likely it is that there could be an undesirable
micro-catchments within the site, based on
consequence.
a one-in-two-year storm event (two-year
ARI with intensity of six hours), for each
Consequence analysis
stage of the project
Consequence analysis determines the effect on
• location of stockpiles, batters, haul roads
the environment should a risk be realised. For
and cuts
example, if a temporary river crossing should
collapse it could be disastrous for a waterway.
• nature and location of works that will occur
The failure of a sediment fence will have less
within 50 metres of a
impact on the river.
natural waterway or other sensitive
environmental area
Two factors that should be considered in the
consequence analysis are:
Hazard identification
• significant long-term consequences, such as
Hazard identification involves identifying
permanently altering the ecology of an
activities that could lead to an adverse effect on
environmental system
the environment, impair human health, result in
a nuisance, or decrease the amenity of residents
• significant short-term consequences, where
adjacent to a construction site.
the effects are temporary
It is necessary to consider both direct and
The consequence analysis is independent of the
potential causes of hazard, which could cause
probability of an event occurring.
water, air, land or noise pollution. Hazards may
arise out of features of the site, or the nature of
Determining the overall risk
construction activities. For example, clearing
vegetation from large areas and exposing
The overall risk is a function of the probability
erodible soil is a high-risk activity which may
of a measure, structure or system failing, or of
lead to dust generation and sediment run-off.
an event or activity causing environmental
damage, and the magnitude of the
Proposed pollution prevention and control
environmental damage, should it fail.
measures should be considered when identifying
hazards, because if they fail, there will be an
Determining risk levels is an iterative process.
adverse impact on the environment.
The objective of the process is to reduce risk to
acceptable levels by implementing an action
Hazard analysis
plan.
Hazard analysis considers the likelihood of an
Ranking
environmental hazard being realised.
Wherever possible, risks should be quantified
This analysis is based on previous experience,
using scientific data, experience and judgement.
historical data for the failure rate of structures
Unfortunately, when risk assessment
and systems, and includes the impact of site-
methodology is applied to construction
specific conditions which may influence risk
activities, many risks cannot be quantified
levels. For example, if large areas of land are
because of the lack of historical data. In
cleared of vegetation, the probability of a
addition, site-specific factors, such as site
stream crossing collapsing is low, while the
topography, have a major effect on risk levels.
potential for dust problems is high.
The magnitude of the risk is either estimated or
The level of risk is also a function of time. The
ranked in order of importance. Ranking
longer a risk is allowed to continue, the more
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
Page 4

involves listing risks relative to one another,
Risk assessment and management should be
from high to low.
continually updated during the construction
phase.
Ranking risks, based on uncertain and limited
data, requires a high degree of judgement. It is
Precautions and measures to prevent
therefore important that this step is conducted
environmental problems are preferred to
by an expert with experience in assessing risks
structural controls that either reduce or control
on major construction sites.
risks.
Rankings need to be reviewed as actions are
Avoiding risks
taken to eliminate or reduce the risk.
The most effective approach is to avoid risk by
modifying the design. Selecting a route that
bypasses a sensitive environmental area,
RISK ASSESSMENT
avoiding areas with high erosion potential, or
retaining existing topography wherever
practical rather than undertaking major land-
Objective
shaping, are examples of risk avoidance.
To identify and rank all potential risks that may
arise from the construction of major projects.
Reducing risks
There are several strategies that can be
Suggested measures
implemented to reduce environmental risks.
• Collect all relevant information needed to
conduct a risk assessment of construction
For example, sequence works so that small
activities.
sections of the site are worked on at any one
time. If rehabilitation is commenced
• Identify, assess and rank risks to all
immediately works are completed, the risk of
segments of the environment, human
erosion, contaminated run-off and dust is
beings, nuisance and loss of amenity from
reduced. Keeping haul roads to a minimum and
plans of the proposed development.
routing them to avoid erodible areas, such as
sloping terrain, will also help reduce dust and

erosion problems. Another way of reducing risk
Once construction commences, review the
is to avoid scheduling works on areas that pose
risk assessment as risk management
a very high risk of erosion during periods when
strategies are implemented, inspection or
heavy rains and strong winds are expected.
monitoring identifies new risks or when
there are changes to the project.
These are some of the approaches that can be
taken to reduce risk.

2.3 Risk management
Increase inspection, surveillance and
monitoring frequency so that new or
Risk management is the development of an
underestimated risks are quickly identified
action plan, including measures and strategies,
and managed, and any failures or imminent
which reduces significant risks to acceptable
failures in controls are promptly identified
levels.
and repaired.
Risk management should be applied to pre-
• Implement a preventative maintenance
construction planning for the most cost-
program for pollution-control installations
effective environmental outcomes.
to reduce the risk of equipment failure.
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
Page 5

• Implement contingency plans, such as
ensuring that corrective action on a failing
control measure is prompt. Such
RISK MANAGEMENT
contingency plans will reduce the
environmental impact of a hazard.
Objective
Controlling risks
To implement risk management strategies to
reduce all significant risks to the environment to
It is possible to manage risks by installing
acceptable levels.
control measures. For example, by constructing
Suggested measures
a sediment pond it is possible to trap silt and
treat contaminated water. Paving haul roads to

Develop an action plan to manage all
reduce the generation of dust is another control
significant risks to the environment.
which can be adopted.

Implement, wherever possible, risk
Large structural controls need to be planned
management measures at the planning stage
and installed before construction commences.
of the construction project.
These include, but are not restricted to,
sediment retention basins and artificial wetlands
• Select risk management options, in order of
to treat contaminated stormwater, and
preference, based on avoiding risk,
structures to reduce water velocities.
reducing risk and controlling risk.
As a general principle, various sediment
• Identify major control structures, like
interception and control devices should be
sediment basins, stormwater diversion
installed as close to the source as possible. For
drainage and artificial wetlands, and install
example, install wheel washes and rumble grids
them before other construction activities
to prevent dirt being taken off-site rather than
commence.
instituting road sweeping.
• Install controls as close to the source of the
problem as possible.
Environmental Guidelines for Major Construction Sites
Page 6

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