Every employer, regardless of their size or business has an obligation to provide a workplace that is free of risk to their workers and free of risk to the environment in which they operate. It should be noted that the law is concerned with risk, not incident.
Should a worker suffer a serious injury or illness in your workplace, an investigation by your local regulatory authority into the reasons for the incident will almost certainly take place. Likewise with a breach to the environmental protection act the same consequence would occur.
Large financial penalties apply for non-compliance under Work Health & Safety legislation Environmental Legislation Fair Work Legislation and so on. In Australia now there is a general push to put persons in gaol for not ensuring compliance in these areas. To say “I did not know” or was unaware of the situation is no excuse in this day and age; directors and managers can be held personally liable.
As part of the due diligence of any organisation, a legal compliance checklist should be drawn up in order to establish compliance, or non-compliance with the prevailing legislation.
Risk Management can help with this.