On 15 December 2022, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare (MHLW) released a document containing a plan to introduce workplace exposure limits for 860 chemical substances under the Industrial Safety and Health Act (ISHA). Companies will need to implement risk assessments and take the necessary measures to keep workers’ exposure to those substances within allowable limits.
The ministry will publish a list of 120 compounds with exposure limits that will be in effect for the current financial year, which ends on 31 March 2023, following the last expert conference on 30 January 2023. The MHLW is expected to list 170 substances in the financial year 2023, 180 substances in the year 2024 and 390 substances in the year 2025 and after. Once public comments have been received, ISHA will be amended and the exposure limits will be in force. The ministry did not provide a date for its amendment.
On 30 November 2022, Japan informed businesses that in cases where air exposure levels for organic solvents and other compounds have exceeded authorized concentration limits, occupational risk assessments must be conducted using personal sampling techniques. Enforcement begins on 1 April 2024.
The MHLW is not intending to establish workplace exposure limits for the regulated compounds included on the designated chemical substances list at this time. The Ordinance on Prevention of Hazards Due to Specified Chemical Compounds establishes precise guidelines and precautions for certain substances to avoid exposure.
On 12 December 2022, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan notified the WTO of the proposal to reduce the use of fluorocarbons in air conditioners and meet global warming potential (GWP) targets. Companies are required to meet GWP objectives specified for certain goods by a target fiscal year under the Act on Rational Use and Proper Management of Fluorocarbons. Global warming potential is the heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, as a multiple of the heat that would be absorbed by the same mass of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Fluorocarbons are fluorinated carbon chain polymers, and they belong to the class of per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs). PFCs are used in refrigerants and solvents and have been recognized as chemicals of concern for some time because of their persistence and ecological toxicity.
Following are the newly listed products and their targets:
Fiscal Year Target
Facility air conditioners
Central air conditioner
Gas engine heat pump air conditioners
Automobile air conditioners
Refrigerator and freezer
The enforcement of the proposed changes is anticipated to begin in March 2023 after a 60-day comment period, with the exception of the labelling regulations, which would take effect in October 2023.
Japan establishes GWP targets for the sectors with the highest environmental effect and where non-fluorinated refrigerants or other low-GWP compounds are commercially accessible and energy efficient.
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