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Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993)


Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations, 1995

Annexure 5




1) Some gases and vapours, when present at high concentration in air, act as simple asphyxiants by reducing the oxygen content by dilution to such an extent that life cannot be supported. Many asphyxiants are odourless, colourless and not readily detectable. Monitoring the oxygen content of the air is often the best means of ensuring safety. The oxygen content of air in the workplace should never be allowed to fall below a minimum of 18% by volume under normal atmospheric pressure. Particular care is necessary when dense asphyxiants, e.g. argon, are used, since very high localised concentrations can arise owing to their collecting in pits, confined spaces and other low-lying areas where ventilation is likely to be poor.


2) Many asphyxiants present a fire or explosion risk. The concentration at which these risks can arise are liable to be well below those levels at which asphyxiation is likely to occur and should be taken into account when assessing the hazards.


3) Although asphyxiants are listed in Table 2 of Annexure 1, they are not substances hazardous to health for the purpose of the HCS Regulations.