Draft asbestos abatement regulations published for comment

asbestos 1
16 Feb 2018

On 19 January 2018, the Minister of Labour published Draft Asbestos Abatement Regulations in GNR 29 of GG 41387 for comment. The closing date for comments is 19 April 2018. The draft Regulations are published under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and, when finalised, will repeal the 2002 Asbestos Regulations. The draft regulations envisage a staggered approach to their commencement with certain obligations coming into effect 18 months after commencement.

Who is affected?

The draft regulations apply to all employers, self-employed persons who may expose any employee to asbestos dust at the workplace and professionals conducting types of asbestos work. However, limited obligations are also imposed on employees while some duties do not apply to self-employed persons.

What does the term ‘asbestos’ refer to?

Note that the term ‘asbestos’ refers to 7 defined forms of asbestos referred to by their Chemical Abstract Service Number and includes any mixture of these fibrous silicates.

What duties do the draft Regulations impose on employers?

Employers must ensure that all asbestos containing materials in the workplace are identified by a competent person. Once identified, employers must enter all asbestos identified into an inventory which is kept at the workplace. Prescribed information must be included in the inventory relating to the asbestos material (for instance a description of the material, the risk categorisation, and certain exposure scenarios). Additional obligations related to the review and use of the inventory is provided.

All asbestos containing material must be clearly labelled. An assessment of potential exposure must be carried out every 2 years. A competent person must prepare an asbestos management plan for the workplace which must include prescribed information (for instance relating to which steps the employer will take to implement these regulations). Significant legal obligations are imposed on employers relating to information and the training of persons exposed to asbestos. Employers must provide person protective equipment to all persons who may be exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Detailed record-keeping, labelling, signage and disposal duties are imposed on employers.

What duties do the draft Regulations impose on employees?

Regulation 8 provides that employees must:

  • obey lawful instructions given by employers relating to occupational health and safety;
  • attend training as required;
  • report on asbestos containing materials that have been damaged.

Other persons on whom duties are imposed

Persons conducting maintenance work who may be exposed to asbestos must comply with certain requirements (which relate to obtaining the inventory, preventing damage to asbestos, reporting, and stopping working immediately if damage occurs). Those conducting types 1 to 3 of defined asbestos work are also obliged to comply with listed obligations. A general prohibition relating to the sale, use and storage of asbestos containing materials is imposed on all persons in Regulation 24.

Offences and repeal

It is a criminal offence to contravene the provisions of certain regulations and persons convicted of contravening them will be liable on conviction to 12 months imprisonment and in the case of continuing crimes an additional fine of R500 per day.

See also: Far reaching judgment of the recent silicosis class action case

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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