Employers must now comply with additional obligations to control exposure to hazardous chemicals, following the enactment of a new Ministerial Regulation.

Background

The new Ministerial Regulation on the prescribing of standards for administration, management and performance of occupational safety, health and the environment in relation to hazardous chemicals (the  "Regulation") came into force on November 29, 2013. The Regulation, issued under the Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Act B.E. 2554 (2011) (the "Act"), replaced the 22-year-old Notification of the Ministry of Interior Re: Working Safety relating to Harmful Chemicals of 1991 (the "Notification"), which was issued well before the Labor Protection Act came into force.

The Regulation imposes certain obligations on employers who possess certain chemical substances as prescribed under the Notification. Some of these obligations already existed under the old Notification, although they receive a renewed emphasis under the Regulation.

Key Obligations for Employers

The Regulation prescribes a number of key reporting obligations on employers, as follows:

  • Employers are required to compile a list of hazardous chemicals used in their factory or workplace, and keep details as to the safety precautions in place for these chemicals.
  • Employers must notify a local labor office within seven days of the date that the employer takes possession of  hazardous chemicals.
  • Employers are required to prepare and submit on an annual basis the list of hazardous chemicals used in their factory or workplace to a local labor office by January of each year.
  • Employers must conduct a test on the saturation of the hazardous chemicals in the working environment, and the storage of the chemicals. The  test result must be submitted to a local labor office within 15 days from the date of acknowledgement of such result.
  • Employers are required to assess the risk to employees' health following the use of hazardous chemicals. The assessment method must be in conformity with criteria, methods, or terms as stipulated by the relevant authority and the assessment report must be submitted to a local labor office within 15 days from the date of acknowledgement of the report.
  • Employers must conduct a risk assessment of the potential danger of the hazardous chemicals in possession at least once every five years. The assessment method must be in conformity with criteria, methods, or terms determined by the labor authority. Employers must submit the report to a local labor office within 15 days from the date of the date of acknowledgement of the report.

Additional actions to Consider

Employers who were in possession of hazardous chemicals prior to the date the Regulation came into force must submit to a local labor office a list of those hazardous chemicals, as well as details on the safety precautions in place within seven days from the effective date of the Regulation. Even though the deadline has now passed, it is still possible for employers to comply with this reporting obligation, as penalties for late reporting have not yet been strictly enforced. Employers are encouraged to immediately review whether any chemicals in their possession fall within the categories prescribed under the Regulation and submit the required report without further delay.

Companies should also be aware of the deadlines for different reporting obligations as mentioned above, as well as other obligations relating to the safe handling of the hazardous chemicals as required by the Regulation. Failure to comply could result in one year imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of THB 400,000.