How to manage chemical risks on site

SANS 10228 guides suppliers and operators on how to manage chemical risks, including labelling, awareness, and storage.

Employees have to receive information and training on the chemicals used in the workplace, as well as a written program on how to manage chemical risks.

The SANS standard applies to any hazardous chemical that employees may be exposed to under normal conditions or in foreseeable emergencies.

Chemical risks awareness
A written Hazard Communication Programme covering the chemicals used in the operation is required. The program must list chemicals, labelling, and hazard management methods.

[] List the hazardous chemicals used, and update it when new chemicals are brought into the workplace, including the same type of chemical made by different manufacturers.

[] State the method of informing employees and contracted employees regarding routine and non-routine hazards associated with each chemical.

[] Explain the labelling method.

Chemicals labelling

Labelling is an important part of the Hazardous Communication Program. All hazardous chemicals must be labelled. The type of labelling depends on certain conditions.

Shipping containers must be labelled according to Department of Transportation standards. Once the chemical gets to its intermediate or final user, a label must be affixed which contains the following information;
[] Identification of the chemical.
[] Warnings appropriate for the hazards associated with the chemical.
[] Name and address of the manufacturer or importer.

Chemicals law and guides

[] Best Practice American Standards.
[] SA OHS Act Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations under GNR 683.
[] SANS 10228
[] Dangerous Goods Digest (Orange Book of South Africa)
[] Emergency Response Handbook
[] Annex A of SANS 0232-3.

Chemicals MSDSs
Manufacturers or importers must provide industrial users with information regarding the chemicals they procure. This information is generally provided by way of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

The MSDSs must contain information on toxicity, treatments and antidotes, flammability, method of fighting fires, personal protective equipment which is normally used and that required in an emergency, and the basic contents of the chemical.

In some cases, an employer may have to develop his own MSDS for each hazardous product. See MSDS management detail in other posts on

Chemicals store fire case study
In Qatar at the storage depot for chemicals and flammable liquids there was a fire that lasted for 15 minutes. The fire spread quickly due to flammable substances.

Fortunately nobody was injured as the store was correctly situated in a secluded area of the yard, with no other storage or operations nearby.

Investigation revealed that the cause of the fire was overheating of a window-type air conditioning unit that led to an electrical short circuit.

Contributory factors included:
[] Inadequate electrical equipment planning, procurement, installation and monitoring
[] Lack of separate and correctly rated circuit breaker for the air conditioner
[] Flammable store design incorrect (electricity use must be intrinsically safe).

Corrective actions included;
[] Training of electricians and updating of electrical equipment
[] Monthly inspections to include A/C in flammable store
[] Install circuit breakers
[] Inspect distribution boards for deviations
[] A/C on a separate circuit system from lights and general power.
[] Change design specifications for flammable stores to use A/C with power supply external to the store.
[] Use intrinsically safe electrical equipment in flammable stores.

Electrical Machinery Regulation 8; Electrical Machinery in Hazardous Locations.

Sources; Buildsafe SA.

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2 thoughts on “How to manage chemical risks on site

    1. Yes it should be EMR 9. The regulations changed in 2011. Seems the author got stuck in 1988.

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