On February 11, 2015, the federal Hazardous Products
Regulations (HPR) and the Hazardous Products Act
(HPA) came into force. The HPR and HPA implement the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
(GHS) in Canada. GHS is an international initiative to standardize
rules for classifying and communicating about chemical hazards.
Through the HPR and HPA, Canada modifies the Workers Hazardous
Materials Information System (WHMIS) to incorporate the GHS. The
key roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers
under the original 1988 WHMIS program will not change.
The amended HPA and new HPR compliance periods establish a
three-phase transition approach to update WHMIS. By December 1,
2018, all suppliers and employers are expected to comply with HPR
requirements. The updated 2015 WHMIS program will align
Canada's hazard classification and communication requirements
with those of its trading partners. This should enhance the
competitiveness of Canadian suppliers.
Updated 2015 WHMIS Transition
To allow suppliers, employers and workers ample time to comply
with the new system, transition to the updated 2015 WHMIS program
will follow a three phase approach. The phased compliance periods
will facilitate provinces and territories harmonizing their WHMIS
legislation. By December 1, 2018, all manufacturers, importers,
distributers and employers across Canada must comply with HPR
Changes to WHMIS
Below is a summary of major changes to the updated 2015 WHMIS
Rules—WHMIS continues to apply to both physical
hazards and health hazards groups. Some new classes are added to
the classification criteria. Additional hazard classes required
under physical hazards include combustible dusts, simple
asphyxiants, pyrophoric gases and physical hazards not otherwise
classified. New hazard classes required under health hazards
include biohazardous infectious materials and health hazards not
otherwise classified. Each hazard class is assigned a category that
describes the severity of the hazard.
Labels—Supplier labels are standardized to include
product identifiers, initial supplier identifiers, pictograms,
signal words, hazard statements, precautionary statements and
supplemental label information. The new WHMIS continues to require
bilingual supplier labels.
Safety Data Sheets
(SDS)—The GHS-prescribed format for SDS includes 16
sections with specific information requirements. Sections include
hazard identification, information on ingredients, first aid
measures, accidental release measures, exposure controls, physical
and chemical properties and toxicological information. HPR
specifies the required SDS sections and content.
WHMIS Roles, Responsibilities and Duties
The responsibilities imposed by the original 1988 WHMIS program
on suppliers, employers and workers continue to apply.
Suppliers will continue to identify
hazardous products, prepare labels and SDSs for products, and
provide them to customers.
Employers will continue to ensure
that all hazardous products are properly labelled, updated SDSs are
available for workers, and appropriate control measures are in
place to protect the health and safety of workers. Employers must
also provide workers with education and training about the use of
Workers will continue to participate
in WHMIS training programs, take steps to protect themselves and
their co-workers, and identify and control hazards.
Giselle Davidian, Student-at-Law, assisted with this
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