Environmental control officers

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(Virtual Showroom): The presence of environmental control officers (ECOs) for projects is an increasingly common requirement of environmental authorizations (EA) and approved permits in South Africa, especially for activities of construction. The requirement for the presence of a CEO captured in an EA is usually not clear as to the responsibilities and duties of the CEO, hence a quick summary to provide you with a better understanding of what is required for your project.

Environmental control officers are appointed to take responsibility for an external party forming part of the project team. The CEO will generally attend site visits and meetings according to a schedule established in accordance with the EA requirements. This is usually done monthly, but is highly dependent on the size, scope and duration of the project. The site visit combines an environmental audit component to ensure that construction activities, for example, will be undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the approved Environmental Management Program (EMP), the EA itself and any other applicable legal requirement.

The CEO may also be required to ensure that personnel undertaking the permit related project are trained and made aware of the critical environmental conditions described in the EMP / EE and the mitigation or prevention measures. Therefore, the CEO must have a rigid understanding of the possible environmental aspects and impacts of the project and be able to transfer this knowledge to the project team, in a way that can prevent environmental incidents in a preventive manner.

The functions of an ECO will vary depending on the requirements and scope of the project that is planned, but normally include (but not limited to) the following:

  • Perform a site assessment prior to construction, documenting site conditions. Often conducted with other environmental specialists to record the preconditions for construction.
  • Carry out regular site visits and inspections.
  • Monitoring of activities (construction) to ensure compliance with EMP and EA.
  • Assist in the development and maintenance of method statements for high environmental impact activities.
  • Ensure that legal compliance of activities is maintained or achieved.
  • Offer or ensure that awareness training is conducted.
  • Consult with the client, stakeholders and report to the relevant authority throughout the project, as appropriate.
  • ECO compliance reports.
  • Provide overall environmental support to the project team; and
  • Produce a post-construction audit at the end of the construction phase and identify the environmental pitfalls to be remedied by the contractor.

The audit reports of the environmental control manager contain the conclusions of the ECO audits concerning the conformity and the progress of the authorized project with photographic references. These audit reports must be submitted to the competent authority to report on the environmental compliance of the activities.

Once the project is completed, the CEO produces a post-construction audit to assess the closure of the construction phase and to identify any issues that the contractor needs to rectify. The CEO may also be required to assess the implementation of remediation throughout and even after the construction phase to ensure that the methods implemented are adequate and self-sufficient.

Environmental Assurance has been providing ECO services to various mining companies, developers and other industrial clients since 2004. ENVASS is associated with the South African Auditor & Training Certification Authority (SAATCA) and strongly adheres to the mandate defined by the South African Council. for the Scientific Professions of Nature (SACNASP). As an industry leader, ENVASS takes pride in providing cost effective services to South African industry.


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