Department of Labour to publish draft Major Hazard Installation Regulations in January 2017

The Department of Labour is to publish a draft document on major hazard installation (MHI) regulations for review in January 2017. The new draft regulations are intended to tighten compliance within MHI workplaces and also protect the public against major incidents.

A technical committee appointed by the Department of Labour which also includes industry players is set to finalise the inputs made at last week’s MHI workshop and will subsequently allow for 60 days for submission of inputs. The Department expects the new regulations to be in force by late 2017 or early in 2018.

Department of Labour Chief Inspector Tibor Szana cautioned the industry to play its part in ensuring health and safety near MHI’s. He said failure to do so will result in deaths. Szana said self-regulations has not worked. He said even with the current regulations up for review, “people are still in the dark about their application”.

Szana said the MHI environment has entered a new era in upholding safety. He said the industry has reached a new milestone.

“Where there are experts, there will be no lack of learners,” he said each regulation comes with it a set of risk and this will manifest in implementation. He said disasters are real, and always stare the country. Szana said people know when things go wrong and when they do happen it is too late. He said the review of regulations was not done for the sake of doing it. He said a lot of money and time has been invested.

Major Hazard Installations refers to – installations where any substance is produced, processed, used, handled or stored in such a form and quantity that it has the potential to cause a major incident or an occurrence of catastrophic proportions, resulting from the use of plant and machinery, or from activities at a workplace.

Some of the major hazard installations are found mostly in petrochemical works/facilities and refineries, chemical works and production plants, compressed air manufacturers/users such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), nitrogen gas, medical oxygen, hydrogen gas, and chemical stores and distribution centres

While South Africa has been spared of any major incidents resulting in high casualties – there have been incidents such as one that occurred in Welkom, where there was a gas release resulting in an injury; and at a poultry in Rustenburg with the emission of gases.

Major installation incidents include the 1921 in Germany the release of ammonia nitrate, 1976 in Italy with the release of dioxin and in 1984 in Bhopal, India wherein a gas release killed thousands of people.

The revised regulations will entail aspects such as the provision on the notification of the department on the installation prohibitions; on-site emergency plan; notification on modification of hazardous installations; risks assessments; and responsibilities of local government among others.

For more information please contact: Mokgadi Pela – Acting Departmental Spokesperson 082 808 2168

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