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South Korea Finalizes Details of Wide Reform to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

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March 2, 2020

In December 2019, Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) finalized the amendments to the subordinate regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which is also known as the Industrial Safety and Health Act (ISHA). Most of the amendments became effective on January 16, 2020; however, the amendments applicable to hazard communication, including (M)SDS’s, become effective on January 16, 2021.

In order to efficiently support industry and the workers and to provide guidance on accident prevention in places of business, MOEL delegates authority to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA), an organization affiliated with MOEL. KOSHA will serve as MOEL’s agency for matters concerning OSHA, including obligations related to MSDS’s and GHS labelling.

The major amendments related to hazard communication scheduled to take effect on January 16, 2021 are as follows:

  • (M)SDS submission through the KOSHA IT system is mandatory before manufacture or import can commence.
    • Any chemical product(s) containing any classified substance(s) are subject to the (M)SDS submission obligation.
  • Prior submission and approval, before manufacture or import, is required for Confidential Business Information (CBI) non-disclosure approval.
    • With the MOEL’s approval, an alternative name and substitute content should be listed to indicate the hazard or/and risk.
    • An approved CBI is valid for 5 years and can be extended every 5 years.
  • Simplified submission is available for R&D products.
  • An overseas manufacturer can appoint an Only Representative (OR) without having a local office or importer.
  • Grace period will be granted for (M)SDS submission obligation.

(M)SDSs, already authored/updated and provided to recipients/transferees in accordance with OSHA before the amendments take effect, are granted up to 5 years of a grace period of (M)SDS submission obligation which is based on the annual quantity. This exception applies to manufacturers and importers only. (M)SDSs complying with the amendments must be submitted before the deadlines listed below.

  • The annual quantity of manufacture and import for harmful agent(s) subject to (M)SDS is >1,000 tonnes: January 16, 2022
  • The annual quantity of manufacture and import for harmful agent(s) subject to (M)SDS is 100 to 1,000 tonnes: January 16, 2023
  • The annual quantity of manufacture and import for harmful agent(s) subject to (M)SDS is 10 to 100 tonnes: January 16, 2024
  • The annual quantity of manufacture and import for harmful agent(s) subject to (M)SDS is 1 to 10 tonnes: January 16, 2025
  • The annual quantity of manufacture and import for harmful agent(s) subject to (M)SDS is <1 tonnes: January 16, 2026

The proposed amendments to the regulation on (M)SDS and GHS classification, officially named the Standards for Classification and Labeling of Chemical Substance and Material Safety Data Sheet, is expected to be announced in April 2020.

Recommended Action Items:

  • Review the amendments which became effective January 2020 to see how they affect your products.
  • Review the amendments which come into effect in January 2021 and start preparing for the changes.
  • Review CBI non-disclosure information to see how the amendments affect submission.

References (available in Korean only):

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