Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

South Africa produces large volumes of hazardous waste with only 6% such as waste oils, being recovered and treated for new use. This poses a significant threat to human health and wellbeing and if not disposed of appropriately can seriously compromise the natural environment and ecosystem functioning. Careful handling and disposal of hazardous waste materials is governed by regulation to avoid compromising public health or impacting the natural environment.

Hazardous materials removal workers identify, remove, pack, transport and dispose of hazardous waste materials. They remediate and dispose of harmful materials such as asbestos, nuclear and radioactive waste, arsenic, lead and other materials, complying with safety laws, regulations and procedures. They are also required to analyse, record and report levels of toxicity of these hazardous waste materials.

Hazardous materials removal workers work in varying conditions depending on the type of materials, from homes and businesses to landfills, nuclear facilities and other power plants. They can work as part of a team and because of the hazardous materials with which they work, are required to wear fully enclosed protective suits for several hours at a time.

Skills

Hazardous materials removal workers need to have an extensive knowledge of the properties of toxic materials and require a complete understanding of safety regulations and procedures. They will additionally benefit from: 

  • Strong attention to detail around work processes
  • Quick decision-making competence
  • Basic measuring and mathematical skills
  • Physical stamina and good health

Tasks

Plan procedures and dispose of hazardous materials that are flammable, corrosive, reactive or toxic

Load and transport contaminated waste to designated sea or ground locations

Clean contaminated equipment or areas

Record numbers of containers stored at disposal sites, specifying amount, equipment used, and waste disposed

Studies

Hazardous materials removal workers can benefit from a General Education and Training or Further Education and Training Certificate or a National Certificate in Environmental Practice at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 4 offered at Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges. However, most training takes place on the job with mentoring by an experienced officer.

Employers

National, provincial and local government.

Waste management companies.

Power utility and mining companies. 

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