Safe disposal of hazardous waste
The mining industry is notorious for its harsh operating conditions as vehicles and machinery are put through their paces – which leads to massive amounts of used oil and lubricants. The ROSE Foundation sheds some light on how these can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
The safe disposal of hazardous waste has become a critical issue for business in South Africa, with specific measures of accountability clearly being laid down in the Waste Act 59 of 2008 and the National Waste Information Regulations of 2012.
Raj Lochan, CEO of the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation, explains: “The purpose of this legislation is to control the collection of information on waste and waste management in South Africa, in order to fulfil the objectives of the National Waste Information System (SAWIS).”
Generators of waste must comply with the following key areas:
Registering on the SAWIS
Companies that produce more than 20 kg of hazardous waste per day are required to register on the SAWIS.
Analysis and classification of waste
Waste generators are required to have their waste classified in terms of SANS 10234 (Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) within 180 days of it being generated. Following this, waste generators must reclassify the waste every five years, or within 30 days of a change in process, raw materials or any other relevant factors.
Documentation and transport of hazardous waste – cradle-to-grave
When arranging for waste to be transported to a registered and licensed waste management facility, generators of hazardous waste must have documentation for each load.
Lochan explains: “This documentation is designed to control and track hazardous waste – in this case used motor oil – from the time it leaves the place where it was produced, until it reaches the waste management facility where it will be treated.” Certain information needs to be supplied by the waste generator in the waste manifest documentation:
• A unique consignment identification number in the form of a bar code;
• The generator’s contact details including: the contact person, physical and postal address, phone, fax number and e-mail address, as well as an emergency contact number;
• The physical address of the site where the waste was generated;
• The origin/source of the waste;
• Waste risk profile, if relevant;
• The quantity, chemical composition and description of the waste (waste classification and waste category);
• The physical nature/consistency of the waste (liquid, solid, sludge; pumpable or non-pumpable);
• Packaging (bulk, small containers, tank);
• Transport type (tanker, truck, container);
• Special handling instructions;
• The date of collection/dispatch;
• The intended receiver (waste manager);
• A declaration that the content of the consignment is fully and accurately described, classified, packed, marked and labelled, and is in all respects in proper condition for transportation in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.
Penalties and fines
Although all generators of hazardous waste now have to comply with the stringent requirements in the regulations, many businesses are not doing so – whether out of ignorance or a belief that they won’t be taken to task.
When it comes to penalties and fines, any person convicted of an offence is liable for a fine not exceeding R10 million, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, depending on which section of the Act has been contravened.
Sometimes, both a fine and imprisonment would apply, in addition to any penalty or award that may be imposed in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.
Lochan concludes: “It is essential to educate industry about these issues of compliance, as they run the risk of paying penalties and facing legal action. Many businesses are blissfully unaware of what is required of them.”
Testing every time
Alcohol abuse is rife in the mining sector in southern Africa, which affects both the safety of the employees and productivity. Employees under the influence of alcohol will often disregard safety rules, neglect their duties, become careless and sometimes behave aggressively. As a result of the excessive use of alcohol among employees, mines are continually looking for new ways to curb the problem.
“The best approach is to move from random alcohol testing to 100-percent testing, but the barrier has been the time it takes to test each employee,” Michael Crossland, PSA Africa product manager, explains. “Most testers take too long to reset and slow down the access-control process, and manual systems that require operator assistance are open to abuse.”
He adds: “The Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel breathalyser is a wall-mounted, fast and repeatable breath alcohol system that is operator free. It’s the ideal solution for high-volume and safety-sensitive work environments, as the device offers quick and accurate results, allowing for rapid testing.”
According to Crossland, mines that have implemented 100-percent testing using Lifeloc Sentinel have reported a change in staff behaviour, as employees are tested every time they arrive at work.
“The breathalyser is a fully automated system that can easily be integrated into most access control systems, including turnstiles and security controlled access points.
“Once the subject begins to blow, the breath pressure sensor will automatically activate the test, which will immediately show a result for a negative reading. The readings can be easily understood, with clean icons and prompts on the full-colour LCD touch screen,” he concludes.
As the device is operator free, it removes human error, bribery, intimidation, favouritism, discrimination and ensures that all employees are tested daily.