New African HSE laws confuse investors

Health, safety, environment, waste and energy legislation is ‘exploding’ in Africa in response to a wave of foreign investment in resources and equipment.

An international Enhesa web seminar (webinar) of 250 health, safety and environment officials in March 2011, found from an online questionnaire that their greatest concern was in compliance with complex new HSE laws and regulations.

The second most important current issue to HSE officials in Africa, is in initiating and sustaining corporate and industrial cultures of care for health, safety, environment and waste impacts, reports PR Newswire.

Webinar presenter Enhesa unveiled an environment, health and safety (EHS) Regulatory and Enforcement matrix to assist officials to follow HSE compliance developments and trends in Africa.

Consultants had also analysed the number of HSE aspects being regulated, enforcement measures, enforcement powers given to authorities, and authority levels of HSE officials within their companies.

A regulatory matrix for Africa reveals that;
* Botswana and Kenya lack regulations and enforcement.
* Ghana and Morocco have sufficient regulation, but lack enforcement.
* South Africa has the strongest regulation and enforcement capabilities in Africa.
* Algeria and Nigeria are not far behind South Africa.

HSE products survey

Enhesa found that health, safety, environment and waste management products and services is a growing industry in Africa.

Environmental impact products and services are growing fast, due to tightening environmental legislation, requiring cleaner production, pollution prevention, impact measurement, shutdown and high fines penalties, waste prevention, recycling, cleanups and rehabilitation costs.

International environmental impact management standards like ISO 14001, standards and codes like the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for chemicals labeling, handling and transport, and voluntary management systems like cleaner production and Responsible Care, serve to coerce employers and contractors to certify, standardise and benchmark their operations to client requirements, or to performance levels of leading blue chip operators.

Health and safety product demand is growing due to rising awareness of labor conditions, increasing unionisation, media vigilance, and rising costs of compensation insurance.

Health and safety product related requirements are being established in several countries, including specifications for personal protective equipment (PPE) like fall arrest harnesses, head protection, foot protection, eye protection goggles, respirators, gloves, overalls, and specialised PPE relevant to high hazard jobs like face masks and heat resistant apparel.

Non-compliance to new African enviro, systems, waste and PPE requirements, could attract fines, customs detention, and product recalls, report PR Newswire.

Some HSE officials on the webinar expressed concern that African HSE regulations differ from European and USA frameworks, while some major differences in HSE legislation are also developing among African countries.

Nuclear energy legislation harmonised

Meanwhile African nuclear and energy policies and legislations are responding to the recent Japanese near disaster by tightening health and safety measures.

Energy and nuclear waste legislation is expected to be harmonized among African countries, due to the current development of an African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), reports Miner’s Choice in April 2011.

The Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA) met in Bamako, Mali, for the third time in March 2011 to advance nuclear safety and security.

African reaction to the nuclear crisis in Japan has been mixed, with some states such as Senegal cancelling plans to build a nuclear power plant, and others, including South Africa, indicating that they will continue current nuclear energy plans.

The African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaty, or Pelindaba Treaty, enforced by the African Union, and the new African Commission on Nuclear Energy, will ensure that local nuclear energy technology meet international safety and security standards.

African energy research, development and training would be harmonised, eventually allowing uranium miners and energy investors a near seamless regulatory environment. Relevant laws, regulations and enforcement agencies, however, are far from complete.

• For details on the Enhesa HSE legislation matrix, visit http://www.enhesa.com/en/service/flash.aspx

PHOTO; Personal protective equipment (PPE) specification for several jobs, including laboratory work, health care waste handling, smelting, and chemicals handling, are being prescribed in some African legislation.

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