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Labour hosts asbestos management workshop

While the Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020 do not prescribe a cut-off date for the removal of any asbestos-containing material in workplaces, it is the duty of every employer to have a management plan in place, says the Department of Employment and Labour.

Addressing stakeholders on the Asbestos Abatement

Regulations, the departments Occupational Health & Hygiene specialist, Elize Lourens, said every organisation needs to develop its own policy and target date to remove the asbestos.

"Where the removal of asbestos or repair of asbestos-containing material is conducted, organisations need to have their own management plan and inspectors need to see the plan when conducting inspections,"Lourens said.

Lourens was speaking during the Asbestos Abatement Regulations workshop held at the Milnerton Public Library in Cape Town on Thursday.

She said an asbestos management plan is a critical component of a risk assessment plan.

According to the Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020, the asbestos management plan must include at least the following: a procedure that contains at least measures related to the repair, removal and management of asbestos-containing materials; and the implementation of the Regulations for Prohibition of the Use, Manufacturing, Import and Export of Asbestos and Asbestos-containing Materials.

The regulations further specify that if asbestos-containing materials are identified, as required in regulation 3, the employer or self-employed person must ensure that a written asbestos management plan for the workplace is prepared by a competent person.

The workshop was part of a stakeholder engagement to provide a practical guidance to registered asbestos contractors and asbestos clients on the legislation and legal requirements.

The Department of Employment and Labour Senior Specialist: Occupational Health and Hygiene, Bulelwa Huna, cautioned on the economic costs of poor OHS practices, saying this affects both employerand employee in terms of medical and rehabilitation costs and for employees and the loss of income for employees.

Huna said safety and health in the workplace is a fundamental right that cannot be taken away.

She reiterated that every employer must provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks. Huna said leadership plays a crucial role in the successful implementation of a health and safety management system.

Risk assessment is one of the key tools for improving OHS conditions at work, and this will contribute to the protection of employees by employers and minimise work related hazards, said Huna.

The five-step methodology in risk assessment include: identifying the hazards, identifying who might be harmed, evaluating the risk, recording who is responsible for implementing and recording the findings.