Advice and Opinion

Property owners have 14 months to comply with the Asbestos Abatement Regulations

Indawo managing director, Geoffrey Jäck,.
Indawo managing director, Geoffrey Jäck,.

With asbestos outlawed, property owners only have fourteen months to comply. According to asbestos contractor, Indawo, the spotlight is firmly on plans to rid South Africa of all asbestos on all buildings including homes, schools, factories, warehouses, offices, retail centres, residential complexes, and all industrial buildings.

The removal of asbestos is strictly regulated by the Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020 and will be closely monitored by the Department of Employment and Labour in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) says Indawo managing director, Geoffrey Jäck.

Depending on the quantity of asbestos and its condition, home and building owners must commission the services of an approved and registered asbestos contractor to work with or to remove asbestos.

The Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020 provides detailed guidelines for the identification of asbestos and plans for its removal including the use of registered asbestos contractors only.

Asbestos maintenance and removal is classified into three types of asbestos:

  1. Type 1 asbestos includes the painting of asbestos cement products that do not need surface preparation or cause any release of asbestos fibres or the removal of less than ten square meters of asbestos or equivalent gutters and piping or asbestos insulating boards where removal work may not be repeated on the same site within a period of six months. This work does not need the contractor to be a registered asbestos contractor with the Chief Inspector (Department of Employment and Labour) however, it does require written approval from the Department prior to commencing Type 1 asbestos work.
  2. Type 2 asbestos includes the repair or encapsulation of asbestos products in a manner that requires surface preparation or the removal of asbestos cement products or asbestos insulating board. To work with Type 2 asbestos projects, the contractor is required to be a Type 2 registered asbestos contractor with the Chief Inspector (Department of Employment and Labour). Type 2 registered asbestos contractors may not remove asbestos lagging material.
  3. Type 3 asbestos includes the removal, repair, or encapsulation of any asbestos and asbestos containing material. The contractor must be registered as a Type 3 asbestos contractor with the Chief Inspector (Department of Employment and Labour).

Property owners have been given eighteen months from November 2020 to identify asbestos in their buildings by employing a competent person with knowledge of asbestos:

  • A risk assessment is required to pinpoint the dangers should the asbestos be damaged which will run the risk of asbestos fibres being released into the air.
  • A written inventory of asbestos on the building is required – by the approved inspection authority and a registered asbestos contractor.
  • They are required to draft an asbestos management plan which must include a proposed plan to remove the asbestos using the services of a registered asbestos contractor.
  • Property owners will also have to appoint, in writing, an approved inspection authority and a registered asbestos contractor.
  • The Chief Director: Department of Employment and Labour must be notified, and written approval obtained before the commencement of any asbestos work, whether it is type 1, type 2 or type 3 of asbestos work.

The identification of asbestos must be done by a competent person, with the required skills in asbestos work, as products have been manufactured that closely resemble asbestos since the banning of asbestos products nearly four decades ago.

The Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020 applies to all property owners, including schools and educational facilities, older sectional title complexes and homes, industrial buildings, factories, warehouses, offices, and any building that may have used asbestos during its construction.

Jäck says that the Department is committed to clearing asbestos on all buildings and has put the onus on property owners to identify and draft an inventory of asbestos and to put a plan in place for its removal and registered asbestos contractors can assist in the process to ensure building owners remain on the right side of the law.