Japan wants to improve work safety when dealing with chemicals and is considering modifications of its Health and Safety Law. The measures being planned are based on a report, How to Manage Chemicals in the Workplace (in Japanese only), published by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) at the end of July. In the report, the authors argue for the development of mandatory measures related to the risk management of chemicals – based on the Sixth Revised Edition of the Global Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
The MHLW confirmed that 80% of work-related accidents are caused by hazardous chemicals that are not covered by regulations. Risk assessment is deficient: Only half of the hazardous chemicals undergo risk assessment. As a result, the Ministry wants to get down to brass tacks and suggests a variety of measures. One of the suggestions is to tighten the thresholds for exposure and the requirements for safety data sheets (SDS) and labeling.
Accordingly, plans call for defining the threshold values for about 150 chemicals in 2022 and for about 200 chemicals a year in the following year.
The MHLW has prepared a preliminary schedule for SDS and labeling. According to the report, the number of chemicals that require the creation of an SDS is to increase progressively from the current number of 700 chemicals to about 2,900 chemicals. The number is initially to increase to 1,800 chemicals between 2021 and 2023. A mandatory requirement for SDS for the remaining 1,100 chemicals will be implemented in subsequent following years.
The following points related to hazard communication will change:
- In the future, the SDS is to include information on the recommended use of chemicals,
usage restrictions, and the chemical itself (such as hazards to health).
- If a GHS classified substance manufactured by the company is filled into a container for storage, it is mandatory to label this.
- Companies must be obligated to provide safety documents to employees who repair or clean devices that use with safety GHS-classified chemicals.
- Containers must carry QR codes linked to a relevant SDS or company Web site.
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