Are you sure that your timber treatment plant complies with the Regulations to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in South Africa?
Companies need to guard against the false sense of security that comes with assuming that they understand the regulations, which require a range of specific aspects of compliance at your timber treatment plant.
It is our impression that few members of the industry have read the Act in detail and understand its full implications.
The legislation will be policed by the Department of Labour, and non-compliance could result in a fine of up to R50 000 or imprisonment of up to a year. While the legislation has not been well policed in recent years, the new GHS implementation (see story below) has ramped up awareness within the Department of Labour regarding safety in the chemical industry.
The updated Regulations still require protocols and monitoring. To give an example: timber treatment companies need to contract a registered occupational hygienist to perform an occupational hygiene survey. This consists of air monitoring, light and noise monitoring, and risk monitoring. These ‘occupational exposure limits’ (OEL) are compared to the health and safety limits outlined in the act.
“The requirements of the Act are a lot to understand and to take on. We advise our customers to contact us, so we can help you can get the necessary systems in place” – Bertus
The report of these limits also identifies risk areas where certain mitigation measures should be set in place to reduce risk of exposure.
Timber treaters also need to contract an occupational medical practitioner (OMP) and must draft a set of hazard-based medical protocols. The protocols guide the OMP in establishing which tests to undertake for all staff who come into contact with hazardous chemicals or are exposed to the OEL limits. The tests are comprehensive, requiring lung X-rays, urine, hearing, and eye tests.
This applies not just to treatment plant operators; truck drivers and general staff may also have to undertake these tests, along with anybody who might be exposed to these risks.
“The requirements of the legislation are a lot to understand and to take on,” observed Bertus. “If the facts in this story are new to you, you probably don’t comply. We advise our customers to contact us, so we can help you can get the necessary systems in place.
“Dolphin Bay believes our company is better off after implementing these Regulations, because they give us an understanding of the precise risks associated with certain areas of our operations, and how to mitigate or reduce these risks for our team, where necessary.
“Implementing these protocols makes your operations not only safer, but also much more professional.
“The new rules justify the automation we’ve completed at our Mossel Bay factory. We’re proud that this is the way of the future.”