The fire incident which led to explosion of chemical storage tanks at Samut Prakan Province in July 2021 together with frequent accidents relating to factory operation led the Ministry of Industry to strengthen its control over factories’ compliance to existing regulations, specifically regulations relating to safety of operation. Recently, risk management, accident prevention and emergency response regulations are in the spotlight since measures specified in such regulations can partly help reducing accidental release of hazardous chemicals, reduce possibilities of accidents, prevent loss and damage to life, properties and the environment.
Risk Assessment Regulations
In Thailand, there are three regulations relating to risk assessment regulated by the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) that you should already know, namely 1) Ministry of Industry Announcement No.3 (B.E. 2542) issued in accordance to the Factory Act B.E. 2535 on Safety Measures for Operation dated January 19th 2000; 2) Ministry of Industry Announcement on Safety Measures for Operation (No.4) dated September 30th 2009; and 3) the Department of Industrial Works Rule on Criteria for Hazardous Identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan Compilation B.E. 2543 dated November 17th 2000. These regulations can be summarized below:
- Types of factories regulated by these regulations are in the table below,
|Type of Factory
|7 (1) (4)
|Factory engaging in extracting oil from plant or animal or fat from animal only that using solvent in extracting process
|42 (1) (2)
|Factory engaging in production of chemical substances, chemical products, or hazardous substances
|43 (1) (2)
|Factory engaging in production of fertilizer or pesticide
|Factory engaging in production of synthetic resin, elastomer, plastic, or synthetic fiber, except fiber glass
|45 (1) (2) (3)
|Factory engaging in production of paint, varnish, lacquer, or calking or filling materials
|48 (4) (6)
|Factory engaging in production of match, explosive, or firework
|Petroleum refining factory
|Factory engaging in production of products from petroleum, coal, or lignite
|Factory engaging in gas production, distribution or supplying, which is not natural gas
|Factory engaging in filling gas
|Cold storage factory
|Factory engaging in producing, repairing, altering, or modifying firearms, ammunition, explosive, weapon, or other object having power to kill, destroy, or disable as firearms, ammunition or explosive including accessories thereof
- All factories that are classified as 3rd Category above shall compile a report on risk assessment regarding their factory operation according to detailed rules specified and submit the report together with an application for factory operation license or license extension.
- The risk assessment report should be submitted to DIW, Provincial Industrial Office or Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand depended on the respective location of factory.
- Risk assessment report should compose of the following 4 main sections:
- Detailed information on operation such as location of factory, factory schematic showing areas that may have a serious accident, schematic showing machine installation, storage of raw materials, fuel and chemicals, flow chart showing production process, number of workers and statistic of accidents.
- Detail information relating to “Hazard Identification,” which means identification of existing and potential hazards related to factory operation in every step of receiving, storage, transfer, use, transport of raw materials, fuel, chemicals or hazardous substances, products and by-products, production process, implementing procedure, machinery or equipment used in production, and other activity or situation within a factory; and “Risk Assessment,” which means analysis of factors or situations causing hazard and potential hazards to occur and result in accident or unwanted events such as fire, explosion, and leakage of chemicals or hazardous substances considering probability and severity of such events which may result in danger and damage to life, property and the environment.
- Detailed information on “Risk Management Program (or Plan),” which means an implementing program to establish appropriate and efficient safety measures in managing risks arisen from potential hazards, including provision of proper utility, equipment/instrument and personnel in following operating procedure in the safety measures in order to prevent, control, alleviate or lessen risk from hazard that may arise from such factory operation. Potential impacts of implementation of such risk management programs on economics, politics and society shall be considered, among other factors such as technology feasibility.
- Method which can be used to perform hazard identification and risk assessment can be included Checklist, WHAT-IF Analysis, Hazard and Operability Studied (HAZOP), Fault-Tree Analysis (FTA), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Event-Tree Analysis.
- Risk Management Program must compose of 1) Control Measure, 2) Recovery Measure and 3) Corrective Action Plan.
- The processes of the Hazard Identification and the Risk Management Program must be performed by at least 3 factory staff members who have knowledge, understanding, and experience in 1) factory operation such as production technology, production process, maintenance, machinery or equipment, raw materials, products and by-products, etc. 2) safety, occupational health, and working environment, and 3) the Hazard Identification, the Risk Assessment, and Risk Management Program.
- Risk Assessment Report must compose of 1) description of factory operation, 2) list of risks and hazards, 3) description of Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, 4) description of risk management plan, and 5) summary of results of studying, analyzing, and reviewing implementations that have acceptable level of risks, high level of risks, unacceptable level of risks, including risk reduction and control plans.
- Procedure for Hazard Identification for each method including formats is given in 4th item of the Department of Industrial Works Rule on Criteria for Hazardous Identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan Compilation B.E. 2543 Dated November 17th
On March 3rd 2022, Mr. Kobchai Sangsittisawad, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, revealed that the Ministry had ordered DIW and Provincial Industrial Offices to notify 2,373 factories that belong to 12 types of factories as classified above to quickly submit a Risk Assessment report in terms of hazards that may arise from factory operations. According to the Ministry of Industry Announcement on Safety Measures for Operation (No.4) dated September 30th 2009, 12 type of factories are obliged to prepare risk assessment report with regard to hazards that may arise from operation. In particular, 464 factories that are indicated as having high-risks such as Type 42 (1) and Type 44, of which operation involves handling of chemicals such as produce, store and use of chemicals and flammable solvents, must submit a remote factory inspection report, hazardous substance assessment form and a summary of risk assessment report with regard to hazards that may arise from the factory operation. If such documentation is not submitted within the specified period, the Ministry of Industry will enforce the section 35 (4) of the Factory Act 2535, which imposes imprisonment of not more than 1 month or a fine of not more than 20,000 baht. In cases where operation of any factory appears to cause danger, serious damage, or trouble to a person or property, officers may order the operator of that factory business to temporarily stop operation.
Mr. Wanchai Phanomchai, Director-general of DIW, said that these 2,373 factories that are required to prepare a risk assessment report are considered factories that are at risk from operations. If such factories do not comply with regulations on risk management plan, they may cause harm to individuals, communities, properties and the environment. Therefore, DIW will rigorously supervise this group of factories to prevent recurring accident in the future.
On March 16th 2022, Mr. Suriya Jungrungruangkit Minister of Industry revealed that according to the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Japan’s visit and discussion during January 13th–16th 2022, the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) Strengthening the Smart Industrial Safety in Thailand was concluded on the topic of cooperation on innovation and technology development, capacity building and human resource development. Under the MOC, Thailand and Japan will exchange knowledge on intelligent industrial safety technology by means of training under the curriculum of the Thailand–Japan Smart Industrial Safety Consortium (TJ-SISC). Such training will lead to new skills development needed to work in the future by introducing the concept of digital transformation and data analysis technology
Mr. Wanchai Phanomchai, Director-General of DIW, said that DIW responded to the policy of Minister of Industry by accelerating the use of digital technology in factories under the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) and has arranged a meeting between the executives of the Ministry of Industry and METI of Japan to find ways to promote smart safety technology to factories on March 10th, 2022.
The DIW will improve regulations to keep up with the changes of digital technologies and reduce human work load in factory supervision by encouraging factories to use sensors which can send and receive data (Internet of Things: IoTs) or process big data to be used in factory supervision which will reduce the burden of staff members in the factory inspection as well as upgrade technology of factory by using digital technology in production. This will eventually create transparency in business operations for the surrounding communities as well as ensuring that factories can coexist with the surrounding communities.
Since the last year, DIW and METI of Japan have driven cooperation between industry, academia and government agencies between Thailand and Japan by means of personnel skills development necessary for future work. The course on Digital Technology for Process Industry – (Utilization of AI/IoTs) was organized last year to introduce Thai factory operators on the concept of digital transformation and data analysis technology as well as technology related to data engineering, etc.
Since onset of the COVID pandemic in Thailand, accidents related to factory operations seem to have increased, which may partly due to change in workforce management within factories and eventually lead to negligent on safety of operation. The DIW and Ministry of Industry have announced in several occasions that they would tighten enforcement on regulation relating to safety operation of factory which will hopefully reduce the accident cases in the future.