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How far must a spill kit be from a tank of hazardous substances by South African laws and standards

In South Africa, there is no specific law or standard that prescribes an exact distance for placing a spill kit from a tank of hazardous substances. However, general principles from relevant legislation and standards imply that spill kits must be readily accessible and located close enough to respond effectively in case of a spill. Here are the key guidelines and regulatory frameworks that influence the placement of spill kits:

Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) No. 85 of 1993

  • General Safety Regulations: Under the OHSA, employers are required to provide and maintain a safe working environment, which includes effective emergency preparedness and response plans. While specific distances are not detailed, the regulations imply that spill response equipment must be accessible and appropriately placed.

Environmental Legislation

  1. National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) No. 107 of 1998:

  • Section 28 - Duty of Care: Imposes a duty of care to prevent pollution and environmental degradation. This includes having appropriate spill response equipment readily accessible.

  1. National Water Act No. 36 of 1998:

  • Section 19 - Pollution Prevention: Requires measures to prevent water pollution, implying that spill response tools must be readily available.

  1. Waste Act No. 59 of 2008:

  • Emphasizes the need for effective waste management practices, including spill response, suggesting that spill kits must be easily accessible.

Industry Standards

  • SANS 10228: The Identification and Classification of Dangerous Goods for Transport:

  • Provides guidelines on the safe handling and transport of dangerous goods, which include having appropriate spill response measures in place.

  • SANS 10231: Transport of Dangerous Goods - Operational Requirements for Road Vehicles:

  • Specifies requirements for the safe transport of dangerous goods, including emergency response plans that necessitate spill kits.

Best Practices and Recommendations

While specific distances are not prescribed, best practices recommend:

  1. Proximity: Spill kits should be within immediate reach of the hazardous substance storage area. This typically means within 5 to 15 meters, ensuring that personnel can quickly access the kit in the event of a spill.

  2. Accessibility: The spill kit should be located in an area that is easy to reach, not obstructed, and clearly marked so that it can be quickly found and used during an emergency.

  3. Safety Considerations: The kit should be placed in a safe location where it will not be compromised by the spill or any subsequent hazards.


In practice, companies should conduct a risk assessment to determine the optimal placement of spill kits based on the specific hazardous substances being stored, the layout of the storage area, and the potential spill scenarios. The aim is to ensure that spill kits are:

  • Visible and Clearly Marked: Easily identifiable by all employees.

  • Regularly Maintained and Inspected: To ensure readiness and functionality.


South African laws and standards do not specify an exact distance for the placement of spill kits, but they emphasize the need for accessibility and readiness. Best practices suggest placing spill kits within 5 to 15 meters of hazardous substance storage areas, ensuring they are visible, accessible, and in a safe location. Always consult with local regulations and conduct site-specific risk assessments to determine the most effective placement for spill kits.

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