If you are a declared dam owner, Dams Safety NSW is responsible for monitoring your compliance with dams safety legislation. We identify non-compliance through audits or other information sources.
Dams Safety NSW exercises a range of proactive, planned compliance activities with declared dam owners, including:
- running a risk-based audit program with compliance priorities determined by dam consequence category and other risk factors
- risk-based inspections.
We will audit the policies, processes and procedures of declared dam owners according to a schedule based on compliance priorities. Audits can take the form of desktop or field audits, and we will create a report after each audit.
Why we audit declared dams
We use a systems-based approach to safety management by auditing declared dams to identify potential risks. After your dam is audited, we will clearly communicate whether you need to change systems or practices.
Information from audits helps to
- detect non-compliance in a timely manner
- determine level and trends in compliance
- identify where action may be needed to avoid or mitigate dam safety risks
- identify when and what type of education or enforcement may be needed
- assess and review the effectiveness of regulatory projects, education and information programs.
Through audits we assure the safety of communities throughout NSW.
Our compliance priorities - July 2022 to June 2023
Dams Safety NSW is committed to regularly reporting priorities and compliance activities. We publish our compliance priorities to increase transparency and community confidence in our regulatory activities and increase levels of voluntary compliance.
Our compliance audit program assesses requirements under the Dams Safety Act 2015 and the Dams Safety Regulation 2019. It examines the performance of declared dam owners to ensure the safety of their dams.
The audit program is developed using a risk-based approach to ensure timely and efficient allocation of our resources. The program addresses our Regulatory Policy, legislative requirements and the AS/NZ ISO 19011:2019 guideline for auditing management systems.
The integrity of our regulatory framework and the dedicated work of our operations team is key to achieving dam safety outcomes.
Our audit program focuses on:
- Extreme, High A, B, C consequence category dams
- Dams where there is active design, construction or major modification
- High risk (above the safety threshold) dams and their emergency preparedness
- Dams with wet tailings placement (mining)
- Dams with poor compliance history.
We periodically review our compliance priorities to ensure they remain relevant and consistent with our Strategic Plan.
Regulatory oversight committee
The Dams Safety NSW Regulatory Oversight Committee (ROC) ensures that there is appropriate internal oversight, accountability and consistency in regulatory decision-making within DSNSW, in accordance with the principles set out in the Regulatory Policy.
Dams Safety NSW’s (DSNSW) regulatory principles include a commitment to:
- taking decisions within an effective corporate governance process to maintain objectivity, independence, and integrity
- aiming for high levels of consistency in the decision-making process
- making decisions based on evidence
- taking regulatory action that is proportionate to the circumstances
- employing processes that provide procedural fairness and natural justice
- keeping appropriate records of regulatory activities so that decisions can be readily accessed and scrutinised.
The ROC provides the mechanism for DSNSW to review previous regulatory decisions to enable consistent decisions to be made.
The Terms of Reference document describes and determines how the ROC functions.
We take a graduated and proportionate approach to non-compliance, based on the severity and potential harm to people, the environment or property. Our approach to serious non-compliance also considers the declared dam owner’s culpability, co-operation and approach to the non-compliance, and the public interest.