South Africa - Hazardous Substances Act

    South Africa

    South Africa - Hazardous Substances Act

    The Hazardous Substances Act 15 of 1973 (‘the HAS’) aims to control and regulate the manufacture, sale, use and disposal of hazardous substances. The HAS seeks to delineate, categorise and classify certain hazardous substances and electronic products into groups in relation to their respective degrees of danger. 

    Last Updated: July 22, 2019

  • Requirements

    Article 3 of the HAS specifies that no person shall: 

    • sell any Group I hazardous substance: 
    • unless he is the holder of a licence issued to him; and  
    • otherwise than subject to the conditions prescribed or determined by the Secretary;  
    • use, operate or apply any Group III hazardous substance unless it is registered, and otherwise than subject to the conditions prescribed or determined by the Secretary; and 
    • install or keep installed any Group III hazardous substance on any premises unless such premises is registered, and otherwise than subject to the conditions prescribed or determined by the Secretary.  

    Article 2 provides the following:  

    The Minister may, declare 

    • any substance or mixture of substances which, in the course of customary or reasonable handling or use, including ingestion, might, by reason of its toxic, corrosive, irritant, strongly sensitizing or flammable nature or because it generates pressure through decomposition, heat or other means, cause injury, ill-health or death to human beings, to be a Group I or a Group II hazardous substance;  
    • any electronic product to be a Group III hazardous substance; and  
    • subject to the approval of the Minister of Mines, any radio-active material to be a Group IV hazardous substance. 

    The South African Department of Tourism issued guidance (‘the Guidance’) on the HAS. The Guidance specifies the following: 

    Declaration and identification of grouped hazardous substances  

    The Act lists four classes or groups of hazardous substances, namely Group I to Group IV. The hazardous substances found under these groups will be found in the regulations which form part of the HAS. All persons who make use of, manufacture, distribute and/or sell hazardous chemical substances must ensure that the relevant laws and regulations are in place and are complied with. In order to ensure compliance, the manufacturer must establish which class of hazardous substance in his or her possession falls under and then abide by the rules which apply to that type of hazardous substance.   


    Any person who manufactures, distributes, uses or sells a Group III or IV hazardous substance must hold a license. 

    Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS 

    Any person who uses any hazardous chemical substance must have in his or her possession a copy of the MSDS. This document describes what emergency procedures should be followed in the event of any accidental misuse or spillage of a hazardous substance.

    The Guidance recommends taking the following actions to ensure compliance: 

    • list all hazardous substances used, categorise them and ensure applicable licenses or authorisations are in place; 
    • conduct adequate risk assessments and make recommendations on controls to ensure correct manufacture, use, sale and/or disposal of substances; and 
    • ensure Material Safety Data Sheet and Hazardous Chemical Substances lists are in place. 
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