At the request of the Japanese government, the Mitsubishi Chemical Techno-Research Corporation studied how Japanese companies are dealing with safety data sheets and labels. It surveyed a total of 624 companies, about three-quarters of which were small and midsize enterprises (SMEs).
The inquiries (final report available only in Japanese) revealed major issues with chemical compliance. Only every second downstream user surveyed labeled its products correctly. This finding contradicts the statements of manufacturers. Nine of ten of them said that they labeled their products according to requirements. The discrepancy notwithstanding, however, neither downstream users nor manufacturers appear to follow legal requirements exactly. About 14% of downstream users do not even check if the product provided by a manufacturer even has a label. Manufacturers and trading companies behave just as laxly. Every third manufacturer places an appropriate label on products only after a customer’s express request.
And yet the researchers found even more problems. Inquiries revealed that the following frequently occur:
- No safety data sheets are provided for mixtures, when similar products (various colors of paints and lacquers) are present, or when products are distributed further.
- Labels on imported products are not translated into Japanese.
- The trade name on the safety data sheet is not inspected to see if it agrees with the name on the label.
- Products are not labeled when space is limited.
The researchers suspect inadequate awareness on the part of companies as a reason for the issues. They often did not have the required structures in place to deal with safety data sheets. What’s astonishing is that every second supplier still uses paper documents, and that every third does not store any materials data on site.
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