June 3, 2021
by Patricia Manteghi, senior regulatory specialist
The Ministry of Employment and Labor of South Africa, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, and following consultation with the Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety, published the long-awaited Regulation of Hazardous Chemical Agents (HCA) on March 29, 2021.
This new regulation repeals the Hazardous Chemical Substances, 1995, regulation, which was published through Government Notice (GN) No. 1179 of Aug. 25, 1995.
The newly published regulation applies to employers and self-employed individuals, as well as manufacturers, importers, and suppliers exposed to HCA at workplaces.
The scope of this regulation does not apply in cases where the lead regulations or asbestos abatement regulations apply.
Based on the provisions of this regulation, employers are required to:
- Take precautions to avoid the release of HCA
- Provide employees with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Perform air monitoring to measure exposure to substances at workplaces and to warrant that they stay below a threshold as given in the regulation’s annexes
- Follow housekeeping, personal hygiene and health, safety and environment practices at work places;
- Follow the instruction and training as given in Section 3 of this regulation.
The regulation also adopts the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals. Manufacturers and importers of chemical agents are now required to classify, provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and labels, and package according to GHS. The categories of following endpoints are excluded:
- Flammable gases
- Pyrophoric and chemically unstable gases
- Aerosols, Category 3, chemicals under pressure
- Flammable liquids, Category 4
- Desensitized explosives, all categories
- Acute toxicity, Category 5
- Skin corrosion/irritation, Category 3
- Eye irritation/damage, Category 2B
- Hazardous to the aquatic environment short-term (acute), Categories 2 and 3
- Hazardous to the aquatic environment short-term (chronic), Categories 3 and 4
A list of prohibited hazardous chemical agents have been added to the recently published HCA regulation, as given in Table 1 of Annex 2. The prohibited substances may be reviewed occasionally.
For Annex 1, Tables 1 and 2, the classes and categories given are based on GHS Revision 8, 2019, but they can be modified in accordance with changes in GHS from time to time.
South African National Standard (SANS) 10234 should be consulted as guidance to HCA for classification, preparation of SDSs and labeling. However, when version differences exist between SANS 10234 and the GHS Purple Book, SANS 10234 should be used for classification of chemical agents by manufacturers or importers. For preparation of SDS or label, compliance with the latest version of the GHS still holds.
According to this regulation, any person who fails to comply with the provisions of this regulation is subject to a fine and a detention of up to six months, and upon continuous violation, is subject to an additional fee per day violated, or an additional detention.
Annex 1, Tables 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Annex 2, Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4, and sections of Article 13 and 14 shall be in effect 18 months after this regulation is published (September 2022).
THIS DOCUMENT IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY LEGAL OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.