South Africa

Overview of Chemical Regulations in South Africa

Little Pro on 2017-12-04

Currently, there is no chemical registration or notification requirement in South Africa. As South Africa is working on its new draft national chemical policy, we would like to give you a brief introduction to how industrial chemicals are currently regulated in South Africa and how to comply with industrial chemical regulations in South Africa.

Overview of Chemical Regulations in South Africa

In South Africa, industrial chemicals are mainly controlled by the following regulations:

Regulation Authority & Requirement

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

  • Authority: Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)
  • The Act authorizes DEA to prohibit or control certain substances or chemicals that pose threat to the environment and human health (i.e, asbestos).
Hazardous Substances Act, 1973 (Act No.15 of 1973)
  • Authority: Department of Health (DOH)
  • The Act sets requriements on the prohibition and control of the importation, manufacture, sale, use, operation, application, modification, disposal or dumping of hazardous substances
Occupational Health and Safety Act No.85 of 1993
  • Authority: Department of Labour (DOL)
  • This regulation stipulates the Occupational Health and Safety standards for employers and users working with and around hazardous chemical substances

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

The National Envirommental Management Act authorizes DEA to prohibit or control certain substances or chemicals that pose threat to the environment and human health. So far, only Asbestos and PCBs are currently prohibited by the following 2 subsidiary regulations under the Act.

  • Regulations for the Prohibition of use, manufacturing, import and export of asbestos and asbestos containing materials, GN R341 of 2008
  • Regulations to phase out the use of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) materials and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) contaminated materials, GN R549 of 2014

Hazardous Substances Act(Act No.15 of 1973)

Hazardous Substances Act is probably the most important chemical regulation in South Africa. It controls the production, import, use, handling and disposal of hazardous substances. Under the Act, hazardous substances are defined as substances that are toxic, corrosive, irritant, strongly sensitising, flammable and pressure generating under certain circumstances and may injure, cause ill-health or even death in humans.

Hazardous substances are classified into 4 groups (see below). Anyone who intends to sell or distribute group I hazardous substances must apply for a license from health authority first.

  • Group I: industrial chemicals (IA) and pesticides (IB)
  • Group II: 9 classes of wastes excluding Class 1: explosives and class 7: radioactive substances
  • Group III: electronic products and group
  • Group IV: radioactive substances

The list of group IA hazardous substances is listed below.

  • Aluminium phosphide;
  • arsenic and its salts;
  • antimony potassium tartrate;
  • antimony sodium tartrate;
  • barium and its salts except barium sulphate;
  • cantharidin;
  • cyanides of potassium and sodium;
  • other poisonous cyanide substances, preparations and admixtures containing or yielding the equivalent of one-tenth per cent or more of hydrocyanic acid;
  • fluoroacetic acid (mono), its salts and derivatives;
  • hydrocyanic acid;
  • lead acetate;
  • mercuric ammonium chloride;
  • phosphorus, yellow;
  • strychnine;
  • thallium;
  • zinc phosphide;
  • carbon tetrachloride (added by Government Notice R1705 of 1995)
  • leaded paint (added by Government Notice R801 of 2009)

Please note that mixtures containing those listed hazardous substances are also considered as hazardous substances. Medicinal products and some fertilizers are excluded. 

Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA)

The Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations of the OSHA requires employers to comply with occupational exposure limits and communicate chemical hazard info to workers through free safety data sheets that are compliant with ISO 11014 or relevant national standards.

Read more: GHS Implementation in South Africa

Reference and Resource

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 Tags: Topics - South AfricaREACH-like Regulation and Registration