A Summary of the New DRAFT MHI Regulations

History of the Current MHI Regulations

The current MHI Regulations of July 2001 have, over the years, been found to present the regulator, the local authorities, the duty holders and risk assessment practitioners with numerous difficulties.  The major issues being:

  1. The classification of what is or is not an MHI is difficult to determine. The duty holder and the authorities cannot say outright and often an MHI AIA is called in to do modelling to determine the classification.
  2. The MHI classifications and MHI risk assessments produced by the various MHI AIAs vary greatly in content and conclusions.
  3. The MHI Regulation does not necessarily contribute to improved process safety management at the facilities.
  4. The MHI notification process is vague and often there is no clear understanding of whether an activity has been permitted or not.
  5. The local authorities have limited guidance in implementing their MHI land use planning responsibilities.
  6. Emergency planning for MHI disasters varies greatly between facilities and between districts.

The DRAFT New MHI Regulations

The process to update the regulations began in 2011 with the objective of addressing at least the above issues. The technical committee suggested that the new regulations follow an approach similar to the British COMAH Regulations, adjusted to the South African context and keeping the aspects of the current MHI regulations that were working effectively.

The major changes in the new DRAFT MHI Regulations as published in the Government Gazette No. 11005 Vol. 653 of November 2019 No. 42840 are therefore:

  1. SANS 1461 – MHI Quantitative Risk Assessments 2018 has been published to increase consistency of the contents and conclusions of the AIAs MHI Risk Assessments.
  2. SANS 1514 – MHI Emergency Response Planning 2018 has been published to provide guidance and contribute to consistent planning across facilities.
  3. In the new DRAFT MHI Regulations there is a list of Named Substances and a list of grouped Categories of Substances. For each of these substances there are three threshold levels: a low threshold, a medium threshold and a high threshold. The increasing threshold levels are related to an increasing mass of hazardous materials on site and therefore an increasing level of major hazard. So, in future there will be Low Level Major Hazard Establishments, Medium Level Major Hazard Establishments and High Level Major Hazard Establishments.  One will determine the level of an establishment by combining the various masses of substances on site, according to set rules, and evaluating these against the threshold levels.
  4. In addition, as the MH Level of an establishment increases from low to high, there are increasing requirements of the establishment.
  5. For Low Level MH Establishments, they need to produce an MHI QRA, an Emergency Response Plan and to do notifications.
  6. For Medium Level MH Establishments, they need to produce all the items as for Low Level, but in addition they need to compile and implement a Major Incident Prevention Policy. This effectively means they need to implement a Process Safety Management system on site.
  7. For High Level MH Establishments, they need to produce all the items as for Low and Medium Level, but in addition they need to compile a Safety Report providing proof of the effective implementation of all systems aimed at managing their major hazards.
  8. The notification process has been clarified with specific forms, timeframes and for High level MH Establishments, a license to operate.

All MH Establishments have to implement various other management, training and information systems to support the safe operation of their MHI facilities and their MHI products.

If you are wondering what MH Level your establishment might be under the new regulations, please contact us for an initial free opinion.