Legal Update

Commentary on the Draft Asbestos Abatement Regulations, 2017

The intention of the DOL to replace the Asbestos Regulations of 2002 has resulted in the publication for public comment of the Asbestos Abatement Regulations of 2017.

The public is invited to comment within 90 days from 19 Janaury 2018, which puts the closing date near the end of April 2018.

Riddled with interpretation errors, this draft requires a careful study, but here are some preliminary comments. Those knowing the Construction Regulations will immediately note the copy & paste work by the authors.

Copy & Paste

A few definitions have been duplicated.

“Competent person”. Like with the Construction Regulations, a SAQA “qualification” is deemed appropriate to express a professional opinion on an Asbestos Free Workplace.

“Demolition work” is also a copy of the definition in the Construction Regulations.

Not copied

An Approved inspection Authority now creates two categories of approval, which is:

  • A person who can give objective findings on the health of any person. (This implies that occupational medicine practitioners, radiologists and Oncologists must now be approved as AIA’s for asbestos) or a person who performs safety and risk assessments in respect of work performed, articles, substances, plant or machinery and any condition in a workplace,
  • A person evaluates the level of compliance to any particular standard and issues a report thereon, and carries SANAS accreditation as a Conformity Assessor or Laboratory.

Asbestos Work types

Asbestos-related work and asbestos work are two different things. If you work with asbestos by repairing or disturbing it, it is asbestos related work, but the moment you expose employees to asbestos dust, it becomes asbestos work. Even if it is likely to expose an employee, it is deemed as asbestos work; not asbestos-related work. What’s the odds of it being one and the same thing?

Then Asbestos work is further divided into three types of work, with type 1 having the least burden of compliance.


Asbestos will be found in three defined items, which are Asbestos dust, asbestos containing materials and asbestos waste; all of which have their own definitions to clarify any possible argument.

Asbestos in place – is everything on the premises and asbestos dust is in the air; not just in or on the premises.

The measurement of airborne asbestos now also includes environmental air monitoring during type 2 and 3 asbestos work, which is commendable from a public health perspective.

The Asbestos SHE File is born!

The construction client who performs asbestos work will now be called an Asbestos Client and an approved inspection authority and registered asbestos removal contractor must approve and/or agree to (co-sign) the Asbestos work plan (approved plan of work), which includes a list of 14 items.

Find & Replace

The Construction Manager & Supervisor will be called the Asbestos Removal Manager and Supervisor when you find “construction” and replace it with “asbestos removal”.

The operational side

Asbestos in place (in or on premises) requires a two step approach, which starts with an assessment of the presence of asbestos containing material by a “competent person” and the certification of the workplace as Asbestos free. The process of the assessment follows.

Failing to meet the above, an Inventory needs to be prepared by a competent person and kept up to date every two years or after new “asbestos in place” have been identified or existing material has deteriorated, repaired or removed from the site or sealed or encapsulated.

All materials on the inventory requires to be labelled as prescribed.

The details of the assessment is split between an assessment for the purposes of asbestos in place and the inventory thereof, and secondly, as part of the plan of work for repair or removal thereof.

Notably, each job step needs to be assessed for each item of asbestos in place.

Both the assessment and inventory can be drafted by a competent person, but it must be reviewed by an Approved Inspection Authority at least every 5 years. This regulation requires specific comment and editing.

The Asbestos management plan

First we have the assessment, then the inventory if we are not found “asbestos free” and now we need to prepare a management plan.

Here comes trouble. The requirement to perform the assessment in terms of regulation 3, will only start 18 months after promulgation of the regulations, but the inventory (regulation 4) and the  asbestos management plan (regulation 6) takes effect immediately. Do you see a repeat of the variety of exemptions to follow promulgation?

The management plan contains a set of requirements and requires to be reviewed every 8 years if nothing in it changes in the interim. The most important aspects includes a plan to implement regulations referring to “identification of asbestos in place”(3), the inventory(4), the assessment of exposure (5) and the processes to ensure exposed employees, maintenance services and asbestos removal contractors comply with their duties in regulation 8.

The plan must also include specific procedure to reduce the risk of exposure during incidents, emergencies, removal work and repair work. The plan also need to include a plan to phase out asbestos entirely.

Information & training

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