Hazardous substances/chemicals are some of the most widely used substances in agriculture and pose a significant risk. The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations 85 of 1993 place a duty on all employers to “provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees“. Hazardous substances such as chemicals can pose a severe risk and cause adverse health effects such as poisoning, allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, skin problems, and other severe health-related problems which could result in hospitalisation and even death. This creates a considerable risk to the employer and the specific site. If this is not managed adequately, the business will be held liable due to the mismanagement, resulting in a high-risk finding during a SIZA audit.

Management must ensure that all members of management and employees that work with waste and hazardous substances receive training in the safe handling, use, storage, and administration of these substances. During an audit, there must be evidence that management and personnel handling and working with waste and hazardous substances are appropriately trained. Auditors will verify the knowledge of employees during the interview process on whether they understand the dangers, along with verifying the documentation that management should keep on file.

Hazardous substances must be defined during the risk assessment process by the responsible persons. These potentially hazardous substances can range from solvents used in production facilities to acids and dangerous chemicals used within the business. The requirement will remain the same – the management and personnel handling these substances must be trained to do so safely and correctly, and be able to implement all safety measures on site every day. Legal reference: Regulations for Hazardous Chemical Substances GN R1179 Reg 3(1) -3(3).

For guidance on managing site-specific risks and hazards, feel free to use and refer to the SIZA Health & Safety guideline: https://siza.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SIZA-Guide-to-Health-and-Safety-Management-V01.pdf