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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

Environmental Management Plan : Department of Labour

Chapter 3 : Institutional Arrangements

3.2. National Level Co-Operation



Other relationships that have been forged by the DOL are depicted in Figure 2 and are discussed below and make apparent the DOL's commitment towards ensuring that international standards and guidelines are complied with, which is further illustrated by the fact that they are used in drawing up the South African legislation and standards. This is important not only within the international context but also at a national level.


Figure 2: National/level co-operation between the Department of Labour and other government departments- can be found in Government Gazette No. 32667 dated 30 October 2009.


3.2.1) Department of Labour's environmental initiatives and resultant cooperation with other government departments Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety


The Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS) is a statutory, tripartite body established under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) and advises the Minister on matters related to occupational health and safety and OHS legislation. The Council has representation from the Department of Health, the Department of Mineral and Energy (DME), compensation commissioner, employer organizations and trade unions. In addition, three other persons are appointed based on their knowledge of occupational hygiene, occupational medicine and occupational safety. The tripartite body provides a forum for co-operation within the domain of occupational health and safety as it affects all sectors in the Labour market except mines and fishing vessels at sea. Draft guidelines on the management of asbestos related problems


The DOL has been involved in producing the "guidelines on the management of asbestos related problems." The guidelines were developed to provide the national and provincial government departments, as well as the general public with practical advice on asbestos related issues. They were formulated by cooperation of the following departments:

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism;
Department of Health;
Department of Labour;
Department of Minerals and Energy; and
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.


The production of the guidelines has been an attempt by government departments who have jurisdiction over the asbestos pollution problem to provide a 'one-stop-service' to the affected communities.


The guidelines identify:

the different government departments and their areas of jurisdiction regarding asbestos;
areas for cooperation between the different government departments regarding asbestos;
areas for cooperation between a local community and government departments who have jurisdiction over a particular asbestos problem; and
all the applicable legislation. Health and safety standards and codes


The DOL makes use of health and safety standards and codes that are incorporated into the regulations. The South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) is responsible for developing these standards and codes, such as for respirators, hearing protection, eye protection, electrical installation safety.


The DOL has a representative on the technical committees that develop the standards within SABS.


3.2.2) Co-operation with government departments on their environmental initiatives


The DOL has several key co-operative links with the Department of Agriculture. Department of Agriculture Pesticides Control Service Industries Board


The DOL has representation on the board, which considers pesticides for registration and also controls training of pest control operators. This is part of an effective working relationship, as the DOL considers the pesticides from a workers health and safety perspective. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)


The DOL has actively participated in the discussions around the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, (Act 15 of 1997). The main objective of this act is to provide for measures to promote the responsible development, production, use and application of genetically modified organisms; to ensure that all activities involving the use of genetically modified organisms (including importation, production, release and distribution) are to be carried out in such a way as to limit possible harmful consequences to the environment; to give attention to the prevention of accidents and the effective management of waste; to establish common measures for the evaluation and reduction of the potential risks arising out of activities involving the use of genetically modified organisms; and to lay down the necessary requirements and criteria for risk assessments.


In addition, the DOL is represented on the executive council, which approves the use of GMOs. Interdepartmental advisory committee for the protection of humans against poisonous substances (INDAC )


The DOL has representation on INDAC and is an active participant. The terms of reference of INDAC are to make recommendations to the Registrar of Fertilizers, Farm Feeds. Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act 36 of 1947) and who has been appointed by the Minister of Agriculture as administrator of this Act. Such recommendations are made in respect of:

applications submitted for the registration of agricultural and stock remedies in respect of the Act;
amendments to the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act 36 of 1947) as the need may arise; and
other matters relating to the protection of man and his environment against pollution by poisonous substances. Department of Health


All DOL legislation that has a health impact is submitted to the Department of Health (DOH) for input. The DOL has interacted with the DOH in the compilation of the "draft gUidelines on the management of asbestos related problems." Department of Transport


Co-operative mechanisms have been set up with the Department of Transport (DOT) in particular with reference to the transport of chemicals and the DOL has been involved in developing relevant regulations with the DOT. Regulations for railways and rail transport will be developed by the DOT, with assistance of the DOL. A Memorandum of Agreement is also currently being developed between DOT and DOL to ensure no duplication of functions occurs and to clarify the roles of two departments where discrepancies may occur as it pertains to the provisions of the Rail Safety Regulator. Department of Minerals and Energy


The DOL has quarterly meetings with the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) specifically with regard to the workings and operation around occupational health and safety issues, specifically those 'grey' areas of jurisdictional responsibility, which allow the employer to fall through the OHS legislative crack. The health and safety of mine workers is the responsibility of the DME, but the safety regarding that of other workers on the mine, e.g. contractors, falls within the jurisdiction of the DOL.


The DOL has also been involved in commenting on guidelines for the rehabilitation of mine dumps specific to asbestos. These guidelines are known as "Standard Protocol and Guidelines for the 'Rehabilitation of Derelict/ownerless asbestos mine residue deposits in SA".


The DOL is responsible for ensuring that health and safety standards, within the explosive manufacturing arena, is maintained through regular inspection of these premises. In addition, the DOL is responsible for the approval of licenses for explosive factories. The DME regulates explosives on the mines, and the DOL maintains regular contact with the DME with regard to safety issues. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism


The DOL will work with DOT and DEAT in the development of policies and regulations regarding transport of dangerous chemicals. DOL will also be involved with the Committee for Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Materials (CESMHM), which is to be established by DEAT. Committee for Environmental Co-ordination (CEC)


The promulgation of NEMA has given rise to the formation of the CEC. The objective of the CEC is the promotion of the integration and co-ordination of environmental functions by the relevant organs of state, and in particular to promote the achievement of the purpose and objectives of EIPs and EMPs.


As a means of promoting co-operative governance between itself and other national government departments, DOL has a representative on the CEC. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)


The international community has recognised that contamination from synthetic chemicals, and particularly Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a serious problem. The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council provided a mandate for an intergovernmental negotiating committee to prepare a legally binding global treaty on POPs. The purpose of this is to take international action to minimise risks associated with POP chemicals already identified and proven to pose a threat to the environment and human health through their toxicity and persistence.


The implications for South Africa is that various dangerous and highly toxic chemicals will be reduced and phased out in cooperation with the international community. Special efforts have been made so far to coordinate and collaborate with SADC countries.


The DOL has been Iiasing closely with DEAT on the POP Committee. Other partners here include the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, and Trade & Industry.


Other links between these two departments occur through their involvement with the law reform process. In future, much more extensive co-operation between these two departments is necessary for effective environmental management to be achieved in South Africa.