Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
2 Dec 2020
12:24 pm

New regulations push SA towards asbestos-free environment

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Asbestos has been banned for some time in South Africa, but new regulations put even more responsibility at the door of employers and workers to take care of their health.

An asbestos roof. Picture: Facebook

Employers will now be held responsible for ensuring workers have a safe working environment following the recent promulgation of Asbestos Abatement Regulations on 10 November 2020 by the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Minister.

This makes it an employer’s duty to provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees.

Asbestos

Asbestos has been banned in South Africa for more than a decade now following the promulgation in 2008 of parts of the Environment Conservation Act of 1989.

The Asbestos Abatement Regulations, promulgated on 10 November, marks a move towards making employers responsible for providing as safe environment for workers.

Director General of the (DEL) Thobile Lamati, speaking at the launch of the Asbestos Abatement Regulations, on Friday, 27 November said terminating the use of asbestos should be celebrated as it will improve the environment as well as lead to fewer health problems related to the use of the silicate mineral.
“As is the case with many other countries, South Africa still has asbestos containing materials in many buildings and naturally occurring asbestos in areas where it was previously mined. The legislator has already developed appropriate legislation and policy, however, the prime focus is to manage and control asbestos sources thus ensuring that the health of workers and communities in general is not adversely affected,” said Lamati.

Workplace

The regulations make it clear that employers are obliged to identify any asbestos in the workplace and manage it property. This duty is also extended to employees to take care of their health and safety and also look after others who may be affected by their acts or omissions.

Although there is no national policy currently with a cut-off date when all buildings must be asbestos free, employers are encouraged to self-develop a policy and procedure as to how they are going to phase out asbestos in their buildings.

Deadlines

Regulations 3 and 20 in the new rules allow employers an implementation time period of 18 months from the promulgation date, to develop written asbestos management plans, including the labelling and signage to indicate materials or buildings containing asbestos.

The new Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020 replaces the Asbestos Regulations, 2001 and was done in partnership with National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH). The launch was observed under the theme: “Moving towards an asbestos risk free work environment and society”.

This article was republished from Highway Mail with permission

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