South Korea Classifies 86 New Work Chemicals as Hazardous to Health

At the end of November, South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) published a list of 253 chemicals (only in Korean) that were manufactured or imported for the first time in 2020. The list includes the names of the compounds, their hazard and risk classifications, the quantity manufactured or imported, and the required safety measures. 

Of the 253 substances, the Ministry has identified 86 as hazardous to workers. The selection and classification of the chemicals is based on the data and information in “Survey Reports” (see below) and in safety data sheets (SDS).

The SDSs are subject to the new requirements of the revised South Korean Industrial Safety and Health Act (ISHA) as of January 2021. Before a company may bring a chemical classified as hazardous or a chemical mixture that contains hazardous components onto the South Korean market, it must submit an SDS with the current data on the substance to the Ministry. 

That requirement gives companies three options. They can: 

  1. Specify the complete composition of the mixture in the SDS
  2. Specify only the components classified as hazardous in the SDS and then list the names of the other substances in a separate document
  3. Include only the data on the hazardous chemical in the SDS and then certify that the remaining substances are harmless in a separate statement    

Labor laws also obligate companies that manufacture or import new chemicals in a tonnage band of 100 kg or more to provide the MoEL with a Survey Report or register the chemicals with the Environment Ministry as required by K-REACH. The Survey Report gives the MoEL the basic information it needs to determine safety measures for employers.  

Employers are obligated to take special hazard and risk precautions for their employees who handle and deal with hazardous substances. Such measures include wearing personal protective equipment and installation of ventilation systems. 

We have worked with our partners in South Korea for years. We can handle the preregistration and registration of chemicals and maintain the marketability of your products. If you import products into South Korea, please contact us at

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