On 24 April 2015, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Advocate NA Ramatlhodi (the Minister), repealed the Electricity Regulations contained in Chapter 21 of the Regulations to the Minerals Act 50 of 1991 and published new Electricity Regulations in Chapter 3 of the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996 (MHSA) Regulations (the new Electricity Regulations).

This amendment follows on from various other amendments that have been made recently including:

  • The publication of the new Guideline for a Mandatory Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Conveyor Belt Installations on 19 December 2014.
  • The publication of the new Guideline for a Mandatory Code of Practice for Risk Based Fatigue Management at Mines on 19 December 2014.
  • The publication of the new Trackless Mobile Machinery Regulations 8.10 on 27 February 2015, which came into effect on 27 May 2015. 

The new Electricity Regulation 3.1 begins by stating: "the employer must take reasonably practicable measures to ensure that…".

Part of this requirement is that the employer must take reasonably practicable measures to ensure that a "competent person" designs, controls, installs, repairs or maintains the electrical apparatus.

The Minister has also published a schedule to Chapter 22 of the Regulations to the MHSA, relating to competencies for purposes of the new Electricity Regulations (the Electrical Competencies Regulations).

The meaning of "competent person" differs depending on his/her involvement with the electrical apparatus:  

  • Regarding the design of electrical apparatus and electrical reticulation systems, a competent person is someone who is registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa as a professional engineer and who, by virtue of his or her knowledge and experience, is competent to design, select and approve electrical systems and installations.
  • Regarding the control of electrical apparatus, the qualifications of a competent person depends on the whether the power supply is above or below domestic or low voltage, and single or multi-phase. The qualifications range from an Installation Electrician Certificate issued by the Department of Labour under the Manpower Training Act to a Certificate of Competency for a mechanical or electrical engineer issued by the Department of Mineral Resources. 
  • Regarding the installation, repairing or maintenance of electrical apparatus, a competent person is a person who has qualifications under the Skills Development Act as an electrician or millwright; or has a competency recognised by the Mining Qualifications Authority and at least two years’ post qualification experience.

Importantly, a competent person for the purposes of energising, de-energising or isolating electrical apparatus (a requirement of new Electricity Regulation 3.3.3) must hold qualifications under the Skills Development Act as an electrician or millwright; or must have a competency recognised by the Mining Qualifications Authority with at least two years’ post qualification experience, and must have attended a skills programme recognised by the Mining Qualifications Authority with two years' experience in switching on medium voltage apparatus.

We urge all mining companies to take note of and review these new developments to health and safety legislation in order to determine their current compliance. 
Ensuring that the auditing component of the health and safety system, employed at the mine, is updated to reflect these amendments, will assist in ensuring compliance.