South Africa has now terminated the utilization of asbestos which will greatly improve the environment and lead to fewer health problems related to asbestos. The regulations give a clear duty on employers to identity asbestos in place and manage it properly. This duty is also extended to employees to take care of their health and safety and also look after others who may be affected. The Asbestos Abatement Regulations, as promulgated in November 2020 set out the requirements around the disposal of asbestos under Section 21.
When a business identifies asbestos being present in their business, there are a couple of things that need to be considered:
- Every business must have an asbestos register and include it in the risk assessment to ensure that any and all forms of asbestos are detected and adequately monitored.
- Facilities must monitor the exposure to asbestos carefully and with attention to any possible exposure to its employees. The responsibility rests with management to implement effective policies and remedial actions to limit exposure in any way.
- The facility will need to develop a plan on how they would like to remove/reduce asbestos within their business. The business will then need to inform the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) of this plan on reducing and removing asbestos (see Annexure 2, – Notification of Asbestos Work in the Regulations). The removal/reduction of the asbestos must be done by an approved provider, as declared by the DEL for the particular year, i.e., in the Approved Inspection Authorities (AIA).
- The disposal of the asbestos can only occur at a site/area designated by the local authority, e.g., the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The approved AIA will be able to advise on whether the removal is also included in their service and can identify the adequate area/site.
- The site’s plan should make provision for the extraction of asbestos and how employees will be protected in terms of PPE, restricted access etc.
For more information and access to the Regulations, please visit https://www.gov.za/documents/occupational-health-and-safety-act-asbestos-abatement-regulations-10-nov-2020-0000