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South Korea's Osha SDS submission rules approaching legislature

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A major amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Osha) requiring the submission of safety data sheets (SDS) to the Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL) will soon reach South Korea’s legislature.

Under the amendment, SDSs currently held by companies will be submitted to the ministry and may be made public.

The cabinet is conducting final reviews of the law before the amendment is examined by the legislature’s environment and labour committee, Deputy Head Ji-hoon Cho of the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute (OSHRI) told delegates at the International Conference on Chemical Policy 2018 in Seoul in October. 

The purpose of the change is to make SDS submissions potentially available to the public and create an incentive to replace hazardous substances with alternative, less harmful chemicals.

It was first proposed in February and forms part of the revision to Osha. Other changes include:

  • penalty increases for breaches of the law;
  • giving business owners responsibility for the health and safety plan; and
  • tighter rules on subcontracting.

CBI requirements

Mr Cho said that industry may not welcome the scope of information to be disclosed, partly because of the requirements to submit confidential business information (CBI).

He said the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (Kosha) is planning a staff of 40 to evaluate 22,000 requests for alternative names each year.

Overseas manufacturers will be required to appoint a domestic only representative, OR, to comply with information submission.

After passage through the environment and labour committee, the amended bill will go to parliament for final review. If lawmakers approve the changes, enforcement is expected two years after enactment. There are possible transitional arrangements for a maximum of five years according to substance volume.

The MOEL is also running a pilot scheme, which includes preparing an electronic submissions system.

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