On February 11, 2015, the Government of Canada published the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) under Part II of the Canada Gazette. This regulation and the subsequent modification of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) have led to changes in the 1988 Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS), by incorporating the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) used in Canada.
The new version of the WHMIS is called “WHMIS 2015”.
The transition to the WHMIS 2015 involved a transformation period divided into three stages, synchronized nationally across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. The deadline set for employers by federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) agencies responsible for occupational safety and health (OSH) in the workplace is December 1, 2018.
The key elements of the system are: classification of hazards, communication of hazards through the cautionary labelling of containers, and the provision of safety data sheets (SDS), as well as awareness programs and training programs.
“GHS” refers to Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals managed by the United Nations. The GHS covers all hazardous products and their mixtures.
Canada already has laws in place for consumer products, pest control products, cosmetics, instruments, food and drugs, explosives and hazardous residues. These products can thus meet their current labelling and training sheet requirements.
The GHS covers two key elements:
The GHS has a modular approach that enables hazard identification systems to have a common harmonized base. The competent authorities of various countries are free to determine which modules are applicable to different parts of their system.
In Quebec, the modified legislation has been in force since June 3, 2015 in order to align itself with the provisions defined by the government. The Regulation respecting information on controlled products (RICP) (c. S-2,1, r. 8) and the Regulation respecting information on hazardous products (RIHP) will coexist during the transition period ending on December 1, 2018, when RIHP will replace the RICP. The occupational health and safety law and some regulations have also been modified.
An employer whose workers use hazardous products should:
An employer who manufactures hazardous products should:
An employer who is a supplier should:
Six elements of information are required on the supplier’s label according to the hazardous products regulation (HPR). Section 3 of Appendix 3 of the GHS document (Fifth revised edition, 2013) of the United Nations Organization specifies the standardized information of label contents:
Distinctive features of hazardous materials’ labels in Canada: When a product has the WHMIS 2015 label, it should be accompanied by a WHMIS 2015 safety data sheet. The WHMIS 1988 material safety data sheet is no longer permissible in this case.
Language: In Canada, the information contained on the label should be in both the official languages. It could be a bilingual label or two separate labels, one in French and the other in English.
Infectious substances: The GHS does not include the classification and labelling of infectious substances. However, in order to safeguard workers in Canada, such substances are considered to be hazardous by the HPR.
Safety data sheet: Following the harmonization of the WHMIS with the globally harmonized system of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS), material safety data sheets (MSDS) comprising nine information categories have been replaced by another document called the safety data sheet (SDS) with 16 sections. This sheet shall be globally harmonized since it will be in force in all the countries that adopt the GHS. Since the SDS is standardized, it will be easier to use it, as the information will always be available on the same section on the form.
According to the hazardous products regulation (HPR), the SDS should comprise the following 16 sections:
The occupational health and safety law, the Regulation respecting information on controlled products (in force until December 1, 2018) and the Regulation respecting information on hazardous products (RIHP) (in force since June 3, 2015) are very precise with regard to training. The training and information program is addressed to people exposed to or susceptible to hazardous materials. The employer should ensure that the training and information program is customized for workers, and is suitable for the specific conditions of the workplace and to the nature of the hazardous materials present there. The content of the training and information program is defined in Article 30 of the RIHP.
Should the employer train and inform workers about the WHMIS 2015 even though they have already attended information sessions on the WHMIS 1988? Yes, since important changes have been made with regard to the regulatory information of labels, safety data sheets, training and information program.
Moreover, workers should always be trained and informed on risks of exposure or about measures to be taken in case of emergency, whenever a new hazardous material is introduced in the workplace, when the employer comes to know of new and important data, or when changes take place that impact working methods.
Workers should also be trained and informed on the WHMIS 1988 if the labelling of products used in the workplace is compliant with that system.
Have modifications to the workers training and information program been made in the new regulation? Yes, in virtue of the Regulation respecting information on hazardous products (RIHP), two elements have been added to the training and information program:
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