Strengthening readiness procedures to deal with Major Hazards Installations disasters must be prioritised

Addressing scores of stakeholders in the Major Hazards Installations (MHI) industry today, Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) Phumudzo Maphaha said the status of readiness in big cities when it comes to MHI incidents is a major worry.

Maphaha was addressing an MHI workshop at the eThekwini Electrical Springfield in Durban to sensitize the Local Authorities on the new amendments to the MHI regulations and, to collect inputs to develop an MHI technical document.

Major hazard installation is an industrial facility that manufactures and/or stores relatively large quantities of chemical materials, which, if they were to lose containment, would result in effects that could cause harm to personnel and members of the public outside the facility.

Effects may include major fires, explosions and release of toxic materials that disperse over a distance.

Maphaha said Durban is one of the high risk cities dealing with a close proximity to major hazards installations sites as a result to fuel pipelines that run across the city.

We are dealing with a challenge of infrastructure which is very old and anyone dealing with major hazards installations especially in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, must be fully alert at all times. We need to have personnel which are competent and professional to deal with major hazards installation incidents that can occur”, said Maphaha.

Maphaha told the workshop that the Department of Employment and Labour is set to publish amendments to the MHI Regulations and encouraged all experts in the industry to use that opportunity to give inputs and new ideas to the amendments.

MHI is a highly hazardous field, and should be controlled in such a manner to prevent major incidents. Part of the amendments to the regulations will focus on the emergency preparedness plan and we will be working closely with municipalities to formulate strategies in order to be better prepared in case of major hazards installations catastrophes’, said Maphaha.

He said the recent floods which hit Durban should be used as a glimpse on the state of readiness that cities have when it comes to dealing with MHI disasters.

Kwa-Zulu Natal is one of the provinces facing non-compliance on MHI at a 55% level, and almost 60 MHI sites have not updated their quantitative risk assessment report.

Department of Employment and Labour is currently collecting inputs in the three provinces (Kwa-Zulu Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng) with highest numbers of MHI to improve its services. The inputs will assist in developing a Memorandum of Understanding to effectively control and regulate the MHI industry.

The workshops are aimed to institute relations with the local authorities and to collect inputs to develop an MHI technical document which will assist the department, the MHI industry and the local authorities.

The technical document is meant to assist the local authorities and the duty holder or the risk owners to comply with the MHI Regulations by:

Identifying an entry point for MHI approvals at the local authority

Defining the criteria for quantitative risk assessments and the minimal acceptable contents in the risk assessment reports; and

Renewal and updating of MHI information.

The next workshop will be held on 21-22 November 2019 in Western Cape Province (Fransie van Zijl Drive, Parow, 7500 Tygerberg Hospital Premises) followed by Gauteng Province.

The session starts at 08h30 and media is invited.

Source: Department of Labour