Specialised Environmental Control Officer Services

In terms of the Guideline for Environmental Management Programmes, 2005 released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, an Environmental Control Officer (ECO) should be employed by the Project Proponent (Developer or Applicant) for the duration of a development/construction project. The ECO provides feedback to the Project Manager regarding all environmental matters. Contractors are answerable to the ECO (or Project Manager, depending on contractual arrangements) for any non-compliance with mitigation measures as stipulated by an approved Environmental Management Plan and/or License to perform specific activities.

The ECO must be competent in the field of environmental management and hold at least one related qualification pertaining to interpretation and implementation of South African environmental laws, conservation and environmental management. The appointment of an ECO is the responsibility of the developer at the inception of the construction phase, thus the site establishment stages of a project. 

Various options for auditing periods exist, depending on the nature of the activities and stipulations of the EMPr and/or licenses applicable to a specific site. These are:

Weekly or fortnightly site assessments (for larger, more active developments);
Monthly site assessments (for slower moving developments);
Audits once every three months (auditing during the operational phase of a project); or alternatively
At the start and end of, and one assessment mid-way through a project (as an external auditor).

Inter alia, the ECO’s responsibilities will include:

Be conversant with the requirements, mitigating measures and stipulations as per the relevant compliance documents, in particular the EMPr.
Implementation and, through the project manager, enforcement of the conditions of the EMPr and the Environmental Specifications included herein, throughout the site establishment-, construction- and rehabilitation phases of a project.

Ensure that all contractors, subcontractors and employees are fully aware of their environmental responsibilities. This to take the form of an initial environmental awareness-training program in which requirements dictated by the EMPr and other licenses are explained.
Monitor site activities on a regular basis to ensure that there is minimal environmental impact as a result of activities on-site.
Following each site visit, an audit report is compiled to highlight any non-compliance issues that need to be addressed, as well as relay compliance matters.
Regular communication between the Project Manager and the Construction Manager on site is maintained.
Determination and enforcement of environmental “no-go” areas in consultation with site management staff and related to haul and access roads on and off-site, site storage and accommodation areas forms a critical part of the ECO duties.
The ECO will ensure that a ‘hotline’ exists for reporting incidents and resolving any problems speedily. 

Auditing of activities on-site and reporting thereof to the Project Management team and the regulating Authority forms the key purpose of the Environmental Control Officer. From residential developments to mines, the construction of bridges to the installation of civil services, one of the largest mixed-use developments in modern years in South Africa and most recently, a wind farm in the Western Cape, Prism EMS is guaranteed to have the experience necessary to provide the ECO service any client could require.