OECD's work on Chemical Safety is carried out under the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Programme and its secretariat is the EHS Division in the Environment Directorate.
The Programme is overseen by the "Joint Meeting" which comprises the EPOC Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology and the Chemicals Committee. The Chemicals Committee, like the Environment Policy Committee (EPOC), reports directly to the OECD Council. The work of the Chemicals Committee is largely funded by a specific (Part II) budget separate from the regular OECD budget.
The Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology oversees twelve main subsidiary bodies called Working Groups or Task Forces. In addition, in order to continue specific work that needs input from experts, the Joint Meeting and its Working Groups establish various sub-groups with specific time-limited mandates, such as Expert Groups, Steering Groups, Expert Panels, and Issues Teams to study specific issues, to oversee defined projects, or develop proposals. Non-member economies and stakeholder partners also participate in the activities of the EHS Programme.
The following are the work areas of the EHS Programme and the Working Groups/Task Forces and some of their main sub-bodies that carry out the work:
Work with Non-member Economies
Working with governments outside the OECD is an important part of the EHS Programme. Experts from non-member economies often take part in its technical work that goes into the development of methods, guidelines, reports and other products.
Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa and Singapore are full participants in the Joint Meeting for issues related to Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) and in the Working Groups of National Co-ordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme and on Good Laboratory Practice. South Africa is also a regular non-Member observer to the Joint Meeting and many subsidiary bodies to the Joint Meeting. Argentina and the Russian Federation are regular observers in the Working Group on the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds. Malaysia and Thailand are observers to the Working Group on Good Laboratory Practice and the Working Group of National Co-ordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme in the framework of their provisional adherence to the MAD Council Decision. Several other non-members take part in the work of specific subsidiary bodies.
Many projects are carried out with other international organisations which represent non-member countries. A coordinating mechanism through the InterOrganisational Programme on the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) ensures that duplication is avoided.
The Joint Meeting recognises the valuable contribution that non-governmental organisations make to EHS issues and attaches great importance to working with them. Representatives of environmental NGOs, business, and trade unions participate as invited experts in the Joint Meeting and subsidiary bodies, and in a range of activities under the Joint Meeting, including various expert meetings, conferences, workshops, etc.
Industry participation in Joint Meeting activities is organised by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), while trade union representation is organised by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). The participation of environmental NGOs across the OECD is co-ordinated by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). The International Council for Animal Protection in OECD Programmes (ICAPO) participates as invited experts in meetings where issues relating to animal welfare are discussed.