by June Kang
On February 9, 2018, Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) proposed wide reform to the Industrial (or Occupational) Safety and Health Act (ISHA). These are the first major amendments to ISHA since 1990. To clarify and broaden the scope in line with prioritization of worker and environmental protection, the purpose and the coverage of the Act will be extended with these amendments.
In particular, the amendments are concerned with harmful or dangerous substances causing fatal hazard to the safety and health of workers. Manufacturers or importers of hazardous or dangerous chemical substances would be obligated to prepare and submit Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS or SDS) to the Minister of Employment and Labor. Approval from MOEL would be required in order to not disclose the composition or identities of chemical substances on the grounds of trade secret or proprietary information.
The major amendments related to hazard communication are as follows:
- The responsible body for authoring and providing (M)SDS will be changed from supplier or provider to manufacturer or importer.
- The substances or products subject to the (M)SDS provision will be limited to the hazardous and dangerous chemical substances causing health hazard and regulated under Article 107.
- The substances required to be disclosed in the (M)SDS would be limited to the hazardous and dangerous chemical substances regulated under the Act. Under current regulation, all the chemical information should be disclosed except for trade secret or proprietary substances.
- A person who manufactures or imports chemical substances must submit the (M)SDS to MOEL.
- The composition information not listed in the (M)SDS because they are not classified hazardous substances must be submitted to MOEL.
- In order to not disclose the composition of designated hazardous and dangerous substances, prior approval from MOEL must be obtained. The MOEL will review the application and the result will be notified to the applicant. After the MOEL’s approval, the alternative name and substitute content should be listed to indicate the hazard or/and risk. Once the application is approved, it is effective for 3 years and can be extended upon request. The proposal does not specify whether the submission will include a fee.
- Overseas manufacturer(s) can appoint an Only Representative (OR), based in Korea, to handle submission of the (M)SDS to MOEL and submission of the application for use of alternative chemical information for confidential information. An OR is obligated to report their appointment or resignation to MOEL.
- The fines and penalties will be applied more stringently.
The public hearing period is open until March 21, 2018. Comments on the proposed amendments can be submitted on the website at http://opinion.lawmaking.go.kr/gcom/ogLmPp/43353 or by email to email@example.com with inclusion of name, address, phone number and other contact information.
References (in Korean only):
[MOE Press Release] – Preliminary announcement of whole amendments to the Industrial (or Occupational) Safety and Health Act (ISHA): [보도자료] 산업안전보건법 전부 개정안 입법예고
The draft of amendments to the Industrial (or Occupational) Safety and Health Act (ISHA): 산업안전보건법 전부개정법률안 입법예고