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

Environmental Management Plan : Department of Labour

Chapter 5 : Proposals for Environmental Management

5.1. Priority Actions to be Undertaken by the Department of Labour



Actions necessary for the undertaking of environmental management by the DOL are listed in Table 3 together with whose responsibility they are and a timeframe in which each should be completed. The actions are then discussed in more detail in sections 5.1.1— 5.1.9. The actions are listed in order of priority and each consider the following key NEMA principles:

Pollution and degradation of the environment are avoided, or where they cannot be altogether avoided, are minimized and remedied;
Waste is avoided, or where it cannot be altogether avoided, minimized and re-used or recycled where possible and otherwise disposed of in a responsible manner;
Responsibility for the environmental health and safety consequences of a policy, programme, project, product. process, service or activity exists throughout its life cycle;
The right of workers to refuse work that is harmful to human health or the environment and to be informed of dangers must be respected and protected; and
There must be intergovernmental co-ordination and harmonisation of policies, legislation and actions relating to the environment.


Table 3: Priority actions to be undertaken by the Department of Labour –

This table can be found in Government Gazette No. 32667 dated 30 October 2009.


5.1.1) Develop an efficient communication network for effective environmental management planning


The development by DOL of norms and standards, regulations and policies with regard to the environment, will have implications for other sectors of government and will also be impacted upon by policies from these sectors.


Therefore, strategic planning and cooperation between DOL and other government departments is required and will commence immediately. Formal communication structures need to be established between DOL and other key government departments, including DEAT, DOA; DME, DOH and DOT (Table 3). In particular, DOL will liaise with DEAT as required by NEMA, through regular meetings of the CEC and other sub-committees. DOL will ensure that there is representation from their department on all the relevant committees dealing with environmental management.


Development of new standards, regulations and policies will be done with input from all levels within the department. While DOL has provincial offices and labour centres, they are managed as part of the national department and report to the Deputy Director General: Internal Management and Operation. Co-operative governance within the DOL will therefore, be relatively easily implemented within the DOL. Regular formal meetings and forums will be set up to facilitate planning and implementation of environmental management issues. The DOL representative on the CEC will also report back to staff members in the provincial offices and local labour centres, on CEC meetings and developments by national government.


5.1.2) Develop and implement environmental management policy and supporting legislation in accordance with existing Labour Acts and national environmental policy and legislation


DOL will plan for, and provide, a suitable framework strategy that will enable the DOL officials to execute their functions in accordance with the requirements of the newly developed national Environmental Management legislation (NEMA), Integrated Pollution Control and Waste Management and Integrated Environmental Management (Table 3).


Planning for effective implementation of the policies and legislation is also required and will take place timeously and involve all levels within the department, and all relevant Chief Directorates.


Policies and other relevant instruments will be developed, or existing ones amended, in order to ensure environmental management is achieved by the DOL functions as well as in the workplace.


During 2000-2004 DOL aims to develop effective OHS policies and legislation that is aligned with the new environmental legislation. The OHSA will be revised to include broader environmental issues in this Act.


5.1.3) Develop and implement instruments to give effect to these policies and strategies


The policies and strategies need to be given effect through the development and implementation of regulatory requirements. Guidelines will be developed for environmental management in the workplace by DOL, ie. the responsibilities of employers.


Examples of how some of the existing (final or draft) regulations of the DOL may be amended, as well as what environmental issues need to be considered, are given below. The issues listed are however by no means exhaustive and key consultants, government departments, employees and other stakeholders will be involved in the development of these regulations and guidelines.


Explosives Regulations: consideration should be given to minimizing the impact on the broader biophysical environment. This would have implications for the time of day that explosions are permissible (to minimize noise impact on people outside the workplace), removal of rare or endangered species from the area prior to the explosion (this would imply ecological impact studies may be necessary depending on the area and reason for the explosions). The revision of these Regulations should be done in collaboration with relevant DEAT and DME officials.


Asbestos Regulations and Lead Regulations: these are examples of regulations where the biophysical environment is considered. These regulations state that the disposal of asbestos and lead, may only occur at sites specifically designated for this purpose in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act, (Act 73 of 1989), and in such a manner that it does not cause a hazard inside or outside the industry and will not cause a hazard in the future. The regulations, include remedial measures to be undertaken in the case of accidental release of asbestos dust. With regard to the transport of asbestos and lead waste, provision is made with regard to written instructions and training on the action to be taken for cleaning up in the event of accidental spillage that has to be given to the drivers of vehicles carrying such waste. As part of the environmental management, the DOL must therefore ensure that methods and means for monitoring of asbestos and lead storage, packaging, disposal and transport, as well as the release of asbestos dust and air borne lead, are in place. Permits for the transboundary import and export of these and other hazardous substances are issued by DEAT.


Both these regulations are under revision and should be finalised for inclusion in the next EMP. Revision of these regulations should be done in collaboration with DEAT, DOH and DWAF.


Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations: consider the health and safety of workers. They need to include sections on preventing contamination of the broader environment; monitoring contamination; cleaning up of accidental contaminations; and notification of authorities of contaminations.


As with asbestos, lead and HBA, regulations are required for transport of HCS and should be compiled together with DOT and DEAT, as stipulated in the EMP of DEAT.


Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents: do not adequately consider the implications of the use of such agents to the broader environment. Mention of emissions to the atmosphere is made but only states that these must be in accordance with the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (Act 45 of 1965). Specific considerations need to be made for the accidental emission of such agents not in accordance with the Act and appropriate steps to take after such an emission and methods to rectify such an emission. These regulations will be revised together with DEAT and DOH.


Construction Regulations: The construction sector has a significant impact on the environment and this is taken care of in the regulations.

Environmental norms and standards are also be integrated into the regulations.


5.1.4) Develop specific environmental indicators for Labour


The DOL requires indicators that will be used to measure the performance of the department in terms of its environmental management. Possible indicators for the DOL could include:

revision of some of the regulations to ensure they are in keeping with current environmental legislation (as discussed in section 5.1.5);
develop competence and capacity amongst the inspectors in terms of environmental management (as discussed in section 5.1.9);
increase in the number of environmental management compliance inspections that are carried out;
increased awareness within DOL of environmental management (as discussed in section 5.1.9).


An organised set of indicators, or indicator framework, is required. Such as framework will arrange or organise the indicators in a coherent manner and guide the data and information collecting process.


5.1.5) Involve stakeholders in the process of developing and revising policy to include environmental management


Stakeholders will have valuable input into the process of developing and revising policy to include environmental management. Stakeholders include:

National and provincial government departments, particularly Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; Department of Agriculture; Department of Heath; Department of Minerals and Energy; Department of Transport;
Local government departments;
Organised Business; and
Organised Labour.


Stakeholder involvement will be facilitated through the formation of a stakeholder committee. Depending on the specific area to be considered, the relevant representatives from the various stakeholder organisations/Departments will attend workshops and meetings convened by DOL to discuss specific laws, policies, norms and standards or regulations (refer to Figure 5).


The workshops/meetings will be held once a quarter. Each programme will include the issue of stakeholder interaction within their business plan.


Existing policies; laws; regulations; norms & standards


Stakeholder review & input


Stakeholder committee


Feedback to DOL at formal workshops/meetings


DOL revises policy; law; norm and standard; or regulation


Stakeholder review & comments to DOL


DOL finalises policy; law; norm and standard; or regulation


Figure 5: Process for stakeholder involvement in revision of DOL administered policies, regulations, norms and standards


5.1.6) Improve the expertise and capacity of DOL officials in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the implementation of environmental management in the labour sector


Since the DOL has insufficient inspectors to effectively monitor compliance with the environmental management policies, the possibility of combining the function of inspections with other departments will be considered. This would require close cooperation between the departments involved and would reduce the fragmentation of environmental management that currently exists.


5.1.7) Create awareness among all Department of Labour staff that environmental management is part of the functions of the department


Before the new tools that consider environmental issues can be effectively implemented, awareness has to be created within DOL, at national, provincial and local level, with regard to:

what the 'environment' constitutes;
why the new/amended regulations are required;
information on new policies, regulations and guidelines; and
how these will be implemented and compliance monitored.


The DOL has as a priority action, the development of OHS awareness campaign, which include awareness of environmental management.


5.1.8) Provide input into the implementation of Agenda 21 in accordance with NEMA


DOL is responsible for chapter 29 of Agenda 21 and will provide input into chapters 6 and 19 as described in section 4.9 above.


5.1.9) Report on progress with the implementation of this EMP


In its annual report to DEAT, DOL will report on its progress with implementation of this EMP. Once the EMPs of the other government departments have been submitted and approved by the GEG, DOL will be able to comment, in the annual report, as to the extent of compatibility of the EMPs, as well as the extent of compliance with their departmental EMP both by the DOL themselves and other departments.


5.1.10) Revise and update the EMP


The EMP will be updated every four years and submitted to the GEG. The updated versions will include progress made with the implementation of this management plan and details on compliance with DOL's environmental policies, plans and regulations by other organs of state and workers.