Korea MoEL Announces Major Amendment to GHS Classifications and MSDS Requirements

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December 8, 2020Hyejin KimBlog

On 12 November 2020 Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) announced Notice No. 2020-130, through which the Standards for Classification and Labeling of Chemical Substances and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) (화학물질의 분류·표시 및 물질안전보건자료에 관한 기준) is amended. This notice will enter into force on 16 January 2021. However, if the MSDS is prepared under previous regulatory requirements, the grace period will be applied up to January 16, 2026, depending on the annual amount of manufacture or import (1 ton to 1,000 tons).

Verisk 3E Review

MoEL Notice No. 2020-130 contains major revisions to the Standards for Classification and Labeling of Chemical Substances and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) by confirming its draft amendment MoEL Public Notice No. 2020-247, released on 8 June 2020. Companies are required to submit substitute chemical names and concentration information along with supporting data to the MoEL for approval of Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims. However, harmful chemical substances that may cause serious health hazards to workers are not eligible for CBI claims.

The concentration disclosure for substitute chemicals on the MSDS is introduced. For a concentration of a substance at less than 25%, companies may provide the concentration with a range of ±10 %, and in cases of 25% or more, it may be displayed within a range of ±20 %. Thus, an exact concentration of a substitute chemical is not required on the MSDS.

The scope of R&D chemicals or products that are exempt from the MSDS submission requirement is provided. Exempt R&D cases are the chemicals or products for scientific experiments, analysis, or research such as reagents, to develop chemicals or products, to improve and develop the production process, to test the application of chemicals in the workplace and for pilot production of chemicals or products.

When submitting the MSDS, companies must select at least one out of 48 use categories as stipulated in Table 5 of the Standards. In the case of chemicals and harmful factors that cause health hazards to workers, more than one use category specified in Table 5 must be provided on the MSDS.

Table 6 in the Standards provides cut-off limits for health and environmental hazards, ranging from 0.1% to 1% in 13 categories. If the chemical content in a mixture corresponding to health and environmental hazards is below the threshold, the information on each section of the MSDS is not required. When falling under both physical and health or environmental hazards, the lower cut-off limit is applied.

Multiple products containing the same components may be combined into one MSDS. However, if a product contains substances such as perfume, flavoring or pigment components and their contents (total content for mixture) are less than 5%, one MSDS per product must be submitted.

The MSDS registration number is assigned to appear on the MSDS. In addition, if the supporting data for the substitute chemical substance is submitted, the result of the approval, partial approval, or disapproval must be reflected in Section 3 on the MSDS. If approved or partially approved, the approval number and expiration date are also required in the same section of the MSDS.

Several GHS classification and hazard communications under Appendix 1 are revised:

  • Under the "flammable gases" category, the definition of "pyrophoric gases" is added as the gas that spontaneously ignites in air below 54℃.
  • For physical hazards, pictograms to be used according to the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNRTDG) may replace the GHS pictograms.
  • H and P codes and statements are changed:
    • P202 is removed
    • H206, H207, and H208 are added
    • Combinations such as H300+310 are added

Verisk 3E Analysis

Pursuant to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Act (K-OSHA) amendment, issued on 15 January 2019, entities manufacturing or importing chemical substances are required to comply with the revised Standards. Additionally, entities must conform to the newly introduced K-OSHA requirements, such as the MSDS submission and substitute chemicals approval.