In recent years, Chinese authorities have put a lot of effort into the development and streamlining of hazardous chemical national standards. 128 compulsory national standards and 1223 recommended national standards, industrial standards, and local standards have been researched and analyzed. These standards constitute the current standards system of hazardous chemicals in China, but still, this system lacks efficient coordination among different governmental branches and likely requires implementation of regulatory mechanisms adopted in countries/regions with more advanced regulatory frameworks.
On Mar 21st, 2018, Chinese Standardization Administration (SAC) and the former Safety Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) jointly issued the Construction Program of the Safety Standards System of Hazardous Chemicals (2018-2020). The construction plan aims to improve the current standards system and improve management of hazardous chemicals. The documents hasn't been released until recently.
The Program sets 4 major aspects of the 3 year work plan:
- The standards system should be optimized. Outdated standards should be deleted, replaced or removed, other standards require revision, and new standards should be developed where necessary.
- Research and analysis of the impact of new standards should be further developed and should be guided by feedback from industry and the local enforcement authorities etc.
- The enforcement of the requirements articulated within standards should be strengthened. The authorities should investigate and supervise the current implementation situations of the standards. Also, training of local enforcement staff is needed.
- The standards should be aligned with international standards and policies, such as GHS, IMDG Code, IBC, EU REACH, EU CLP, etc. For example, the revision to the JT 617 drew from requirements and standards articulated within “The European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)” in many aspects.
Some key tasks during the amelioration of the standards system include:
- The safe production, storage, operation, and use of hazardous chemicals.
- The safe transportation of hazardous chemicals.
- The testing of hazardous chemicals.
- The categorization, disposal, and testing of waste chemicals.
- The safety management of hazardous chemicals in industrial parks.
- The emergency response of hazardous chemicals and the investigation of accidents.
The Program requires establishment of a comprehensive safety standards system of hazardous chemicals, consisting of the general requirements, testing and products standards, hazchem lifecycle management, and the supervision and emergency response (see the picture below). A lot of governmental branches will be involved in the Program, such as the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), etc.