Vietnam amends standard for exposure limits of 50 chemicals in workplace

On June 10, 2019, the Ministry of Health of Vietnam enacted the national technical standard of “QCVN 03:2019/BYT on Permissible Exposure Limit Value of 50 chemicals in the workplace” (hereinafter referred to as the “Technical Standard”) as an attachment to the Circular No. 10/2019/TT-BYT. This circular came into force on December 9, 2019.

It should be noted that there have already been the permissible exposure limits of 365 chemicals set by the current Decision No. 3733/2002/QD-BYT, but for substances that overlap with the newly established QCVN 03:2019/BYT will be referred to this newly Technical Standard.

The 50 substances stipulated in this Technical Standard are as follows:
Acetone, Acetic acid, Hydrogen chloride, Sulfuric acid, Ammonia, Aniline, Arsenic and compounds, Arsine, Benzene, n-Butanol, Cadmium and compounds, Carbon dioxide, Carbon disulfide, Carbon monoxide, Carbon tetrachloride, Chlorine, Chloroform, Chromium (III) compounds, Chromium (VI) compounds (water soluble) such as Hexavalent chromium, Chromium trioxide, Cobalt and compounds, Dichloromethane, Copper and compounds (dust), Copper and compounds (fume), Ethanol, Fluorine, Fluorides, Formaldehyde, n-Hexane, Hydrogen cyanide, Hydrogen sulfide, Zinc oxide, Manganese and compounds, Methanol, Methyl acetate, Aluminum and compounds, Nicotine, Nitrogen dioxide, Nitric oxide, Nitrobenzene, Nitrotoluene, Phenol, Selenium dioxide, Selenium and compounds, Sulfur dioxide, Toluene, 2,4,6 – Trinitrotoluene, Vinyl chloride, Petrol (Petrol distillates, gasoline) and Xylene.

For each of the above substances, the Vietnamese name, English name, chemical formula, molecular weight, Cas RN, Time Weighted Average (TWA), Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL), and information on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of the substance are specified in the Technical Standard. It also provides definitions of the chemical substances, methods of calculating TWA and STEL, and methods of measurement for each substance.

In addition to the permissible exposure limits, the Technical Standards also define the following management responsibilities:

  • Facilities with workers exposed to chemicals shall be assessed for such chemicals at least once a year in accordance with this Technical Standard and the relevant provisions of the Law on Occupational Safety and Health.
  • Employers shall provide workers with protective equipment appropriate to the workplace in accordance with Law on Occupational Health and Safety and relevant regulations.
  • Where chemical concentrations exceed the permissible exposure limits set out in this Technical Standard, the employer shall immediately take measures to improve the work environment and protect workers’ health in accordance with Law on Occupational Health and Safety and relevant regulations.

The original text of the Technical Standard is available for download below: