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March 23, 2011

China to Implement Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On March 12, 2011, China’s State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) issued Decree 591, “Regulation on the Safe Management of Dangerous Chemicals,” which concerns the safe use of chemicals. The regulation is very wide ranging in scope and “sets the tone” for future chemicals legislation.

As one of the more immediate impacts, State Decree 591 uses the National Standards GB 13690-2009 on the general rules for the classification and hazard communication of chemicals, and GB 12528-2009 on precautionary labeling. The National Standards are effectively technical manuals that assist in the practical compliance with Decree 591.

Currently, the critical deadline is December 1, 2011, which is the implementation date of the Decree. The implementation date of the National Standards, May 1, 2011, is not of significant impact as the Decree date is the date recognized by the implementation authority. China has previously issued supplementary guidance, after promulgating final regulations, that contain transitional periods, and it is possible that the December 1, 2011, deadline will change.