1. What is a chemical inspection?
According to Vietnamese law, chemical inspection in industrial fields is treated as specialized inspection under management of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT). The purposes of chemical inspection are to check compliance with chemical management regulations and to penalize violations for businesses investing in, producing, bottling, packaging, selling and purchasing, importing, exporting, transporting, storing, preserving and using chemicals in Vietnam (hereinafter referred to as “chemical activities”).
Chemicals are one of the basic raw materials of industrial production. However, chemical activities always have potential risks of incidents causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. Strict and synchronous control management is required at all stages. Therefore, chemical inspections have been strengthened in recent years, requiring chemical activities to be strictly managed at all stages. Chemical inspections are governed by current regulations on general inspections, and regulations on specialized inspections in the industrial and trade sectors, according to the following documents:
- Law on Inspection 56/2007/QH12
- Decree 86/2011/ND-CP Detailing and Guiding the Implementation of a Number of Articles of the Law on Inspection
- Decree 127/2015/ND-CP on Organization and Operation of the Industry and Trade Inspectorate
- Decree 54/2020/ND-CP amending Decree 127/2015/ND-CP
Agencies in charge of chemical inspections
In the chemical field, the following agencies are in charge of performing the specialized inspection function:
- Chemical agency of MOIT
- Industrial safety techniques and environment agency of MOIT
- Market management sub-department of provincial DOIT (Department of Industry and Trade)
Subjects of chemical inspections
The subjects of chemical inspections are enterprises involved in chemical activities, including chemical products in the industry sector under the management of MOIT, such as industrial chemicals, industrial precursors, industrial explosives, and explosive precursors. Other chemicals are not included in industrial chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and germicides which are under management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and drugs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc. which are under management of the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The current subjects of chemical inspections are not limited by scale, type of chemical, domestic or FDI company. According to the annual inspection plan submitted by MOIT to the Government, there are more than 30 enterprises subject to scheduled inspections, and hundreds of other enterprises subject to unscheduled inspections or checking for license application. Particularly, with the increase of foreign-invested chemical manufacturing and trading enterprises in Vietnam, FDI enterprises are always on the list of annual chemical inspections.
2. Contents of chemical inspections
System of chemical management regulations
As mentioned above, the purpose of chemical inspections is to check compliance with the chemical management regulations. The system of chemical management regulations mainly includes the following documents:
Law on Chemicals 06/2007/QH12
- Decree 113/2017/ND-CP providing guidelines for implementation of the Law on Chemicals
- Circular 32/2017/TT-BCT providing guidelines for implementation of the Law on Chemicals and Decree 113/2017/ND-CP
- Decree 73/2018/ND-CP on Lists of narcotic substances and precursors
- Decree 38/2014/ND-CP on the management of chemicals governed by Convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction
- Circular 13/2018/TT-BCT on management and use of industrial explosives and precursors used in explosives manufacturing
- Circular 30/2011/TT-BCT stipulating temporarily the permissible content limitation of some toxic chemicals in electronic and electrical products
- National technical regulation QCVN 01:2017/BCT on contents of formaldehyde and certain aromatic amines derived from azo colourants in textile products.
- Decree 42/2020/ND-CP on prescribing the list of dangerous goods, transport of dangerous goods by land motor vehicles and transport of dangerous goods by inland waterways
- Circular 37/2020/TT-BCT on prescribing the list of dangerous goods requiring packaging during transport and transport of dangerous goods by road, rail, and inland waterway
- National technical regulation QCVN 05A:2020/BCT on safety in production, commerce, use, storage, and transportation of hazardous chemicals
- Decree 71/2019/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations against regulations on chemicals and industrial explosive materials
Contents of chemical inspections
The contents of specialized inspections in chemical fields are regulated in detail by Article 24 of Decree 127/2015/ND-CP and amended by Article 7 of Decree 54/2020/ND-CP which are summarized as follows:
|No.||Inspection contents||Related documents|
|1||Permissible content limitation of some toxic chemicals in electronic, electrical, and textile products||Circular 30/2011/TT-BCT; QCVN 01:2017/BCT|
|2||Classification of chemicals according to GHS and chemical safety data sheets (SDS)||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|3||Prevention and response to chemical incidents in the industrial sector||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|4||Production and use of scheduled chemicals 1, 2, 3||Decree 38/2014/ND-CP|
|5||Conditions for production and trading of industrial explosives||Circular 13/2018/TT-BCT|
|6||Conditions for production and trading of explosive precursors||Circular 13/2018/TT-BCT|
|7||Production and trading of prohibited precursors||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|8||Production and trading of chemicals subject to conditional industrial chemicals||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|9||Production and trading of chemicals subject to restricted industrial chemicals||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|10||Sale and purchase of toxic chemicals||Law on Chemicals|
|11||Declaration of chemicals||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|12||Use of chemicals||Law on Chemicals|
|13||Chemical safety training||Decree 113/2017/ND-CP|
|14||Contents according to other laws and regulations|
According to the above table, the contents of chemical inspections mainly focus on importation, production, trading, and use of chemicals, and are not yet related to transportation, preservation, or environmental protection activities. However, in recent years, many new regulations on the transportation of dangerous goods (including chemicals) such as Decree 42/2020/ND-CP, Circular 37/2020/TT-BCT; regulation on preservation of hazardous chemicals such as National technical regulation QCVN 05A:2020/BCT; regulation on management of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) regulated in revised Law on environment in 2020 have been promulgated in order to strengthen control of the entire life cycle of chemicals from import to consumption and disposal in the Vietnamese market.
Furthermore, Decree 71/2019/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations against regulations on chemicals and industrial explosive materials is also being revised and supplemented by MOIT, has been submitted to the Government, and is expected to be approved and issued in 2022. Therefore, the contents of chemical inspections shall be more comprehensive and expanded, requiring enterprises involved in chemical activities to pay attention and review their chemical management carefully.
3. Typical violations and penalties
The following table is a summary of some typical violations that enterprises often commit during production and trading, and the corresponding administrative penalties based on Decree 71/2019/ND-CP.
|Typical violations||Administrative penalties||Additional penalties|
|Certificate of eligibility for manufacturing or selling conditional industrial chemicals||A fine ranging from 30 mil. to 40 mil. VND shall be imposed for manufacturing or selling conditional industrial chemicals without a certificate||The violator is compelled to transfer illegal benefits obtained from the violation|
|License for production and trading of restricted industrial chemicals||A fine ranging from 40 mil. to 50 mil. VND shall be imposed for manufacturing or selling restricted industrial chemicals without a license||The violator is compelled to transfer illegal benefits obtained from the violation|
|License for industrial precursor chemicals import||A fine of up to 200 mil. VND shall be imposed for importing industrial precursor chemicals without import license or using an expired license depending on the value of goods|
|Management of industrial precursor chemicals||
|Management of toxic chemicals||
|Record of hazardous chemical information||
|Classification of chemicals according to GHS||
||The violator is compelled to recall domestically manufactured or imported chemicals that have been used or sold on the market but have not been classified according to GHS (not prescribed in SDS)|
|Safety data sheet (SDS) in Vietnamese||A fine ranging from 30 mil. to 40 mil. VND shall be imposed for not preparing an SDS in the Vietnamese language for used or sold hazardous chemicals||The violator is compelled to recall and recycle used or sold toxic chemicals without an SDS in Vietnamese|
|Annual report of chemical activities||A fine ranging from 10 mil. to 14 mil. VND shall be imposed for not submitting annual reports|
|Chemical safety officer||A fine ranging from 10 mil. to 20 mil. VND shall be imposed for not employing a person in charge of chemical safety in facilities manufacturing or in sales of conditional or restricted industrial chemicals, who has not obtained at least an intermediate professional education diploma in chemicals.||The certificate of eligibility for manufacturing or selling conditional industrial chemicals or the license for production and trading of restricted industrial chemicals shall be suspended for a period of 1 to 3 months|
|Chemical safety training||A fine of up to 60 mil. VND shall be imposed for not organizing chemical safety training, depending on the number and group type of employees|
|Measures for prevention of and response to chemical incidents||A fine ranging from 30 mil. to 40 mil. VND shall be imposed for not preparing measures for prevention of and response to chemical incidents before the project comes into force||The manufacture, sale, or use of hazardous chemicals shall be suspended for a period of 1 to 3 months if the violation results in a chemical incident|
|Plans for prevention of and response to chemical incidents||A fine ranging from 40 mil. to 50 mil. VND shall be imposed for not preparing plans for prevention of and response to chemical incidents before the project comes into force||The manufacture, sale, or use of hazardous chemicals shall be suspended for a period of 1 to 3 months if the violation results in a chemical incident|
According to the above, enterprises involve in chemical activities must pay a great deal of attention to the management of chemicals and compliance with the chemical regulations. In addition to obtaining permits and certificates for production, trading, and import of chemicals, preparing measures/plans for prevention of and response to chemical incidents before the project comes into force, enterprises must also comply with many other regulations on the preparation of chemical management records, control of hazardous chemicals/precursors, chemical safety officers, reporting, and safety training, etc. in order to avoid unnecessary violations, and have the best preparation for chemical inspection by state agencies.