THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEGAL COMPLIANCE AUDITS
If you are an organization conducting operations in South Africa, you have the legal duty to comply with all national, provincial and local legislation as applicable to your operations. This legislation includes a substantial range of Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) legislation. HSE legislation can seem complicated and overwhelming and some prescribed penalties for non-compliance with HSE legislation are quite harsh. In addition to the prescribed penalties that can be imposed, the potential consequences of legal non-compliance of your activities include the issuing of directives, pre-directives, NEMA rectification applications, admission of guilt fines, confiscation orders, section 54 MHSA stoppage orders and personal criminal liability. These consequences can impact negatively on the financial position of your operation, your operation’s reputation and can also lead to loss of employment.
An increase has been noted in enforcement of and prosecution in terms of HSE legislation. According to the 2015/2016 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report, 309 warning letters, 290 pre-directives, 422 pre-compliance notices, 146 directives and 58 final compliance notices were issued during the reporting period. Administrative fines in terms of section 24G of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA) to the value of R 8 019 250.00 were also issued during this period.
Various court cases have recently been finalised during which personnel was held personal criminally liable for HSE legal contraventions. In October 2012, the Ermelo Regional Magistrate’s Court convicted Golfview Mining (Pty) Ltd, a director, the environmental officer and the mine manager in light of two contraventions of NEMA and one contravention of the NWA. A fine of R4 million was imposed which was at the time the largest criminal penalty ever. The Blue Platinum Ventures in 2014 case was the first case where a director was held personally liable for environmental damages. This court sentenced the managing director of a company to a five year suspended prison sentence subject to undertaking rehabilitation of the site and not committing the same offence within the suspended period. The areas damaged by the mining activities had to be rehabilitated within three months at a cost of approximately R6.8 million.
Shangoni’s Legal Services Department conducts HSE legal compliance audits for clients in the mining and non-mining industries. When conducting these audits, our qualified attorneys work closely together with the technical specialists of Shangoni to ensure that the technical aspects of HSE management are also incorporated and considered throughout the auditing process.
Shangoni’s HSE legal compliance audits provide sufficient baseline information that can be used to determine the current nature of your HSE legal risk profile. The results of HSE legal compliance audits enable clients to identify areas of high legal risk and to define steps to be taken to mitigate or eliminate the legal risk to avoid potential prosecution.
To obtain a quotation for a HSE legal compliance audit on your site, contact the Suzette Hartzer-Marais from the Shangoni Legal Services Department at email@example.com.