In early 2022, South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) announced the initiation of a nationwide supervision campaign on MSDS (CL news). Below are the supervision results (from April to September of 2022) made public by the MoEL on November 3.
From April to June, 8,300 manufacturers and importers in South Korea filled in the self-checklist to review their internal management on MSDS. During this period, 1,348 units submitted 28,266 MSDS to the MoEL.
From July to September, spot checks on the compliance of companies were conducted, covering the MSDS preparation and submission, and the implementation of safety rules regarding internal management indicated on MSDS. The MoEL conducted spot checks on 214 companies that manufacture and import chemical substances in large quantities (> 1,000 t/y: 169 companies) and reported 241 violations in 121 companies.
Main violations include:
Failing to submit MSDS to the MoEL;
Failing to affix warning marks to the containers or packaging of the chemicals;
Failing to provide employee training for personnel handling chemical substances; and
Failing to display MSDS in the workplace.
For the abovementioned non-compliance with hazard communication relating to the protection of human health and safety in the workplace, the MoEL has imposed corresponding punishments (i.e., legal actions were taken against 6 companies and a fine of 249.69 million won was imposed on 120 companies) and required stakeholders to rectify issues uncovered.
According to the revised Occupational Safety and Health Act, MSDS submission and CBI non-disclosure approval through the IT system is mandatory before the manufacture or import of chemicals since January 16, 2021. For chemicals circulated in South Korea with MSDS prepared before January 16, 2021, grace periods (up to 5 years) are given based on the manufacture/import volume of chemicals (read more).
Companies with an annual tonnage of less than 1,000 tons still enjoy grace periods. It is recommended to check whether the 16 sections on MSDS have been properly prepared in accordance with the revised Standards for Classification and Labeling of Chemical Substances and Material Safety Data Sheet (MOEL Public Notice 2020-130), and check whether there is a need to apply for CBI non-disclosure approval, thereby complying with the corresponding obligations in time.It should be noted that manufacturers and importers with an annual tonnage of 100~1,000 tons shall submit the MSDS and apply for the CBI non-disclosure approval (if needed) via the IT system within the grace period, i.e., before January 16, 2023.