On February 11th 2015, Canada finally published its version of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classification and labelling of workplace chemicals referred to as WHMIS 2015; this was achieved by amending the Hazardous Products Act with new regulations, the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).GHS

The new regulations repeal and replace WHMIS 1998, or the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR). It’s important to note that with the issuance of WHMIS 2015, companies immediately have the option of implementing GHS requirements for labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) or waiting until June 1, 2017.
It is a relief to realize that once fully adopted in December of 2018, Canada’s GHS will closely align with the current U.S. system. It also makes the situation easier for companies trying to comply with US HazCom’s June 2015 deadline; it allows for development of more closely aligned SDS and Labeling. As stated by the Canadian Gazette: “Applying the GHS to Canada’s hazard communication system for workplace hazardous chemicals, and doing so in alignment with the approach being taken by the U.S., Canada’s major trading partner, not only reduces costs for industry and facilitates trade, but also keeps Canada on pace with the global standard for such systems.”
The system for implementation has been divided into three major phases.
• Phase 1: Now until June 1, 2017 – allows for the use of either the old (WHMIS 1988) or new (WHMIS 2015) requirements. The classification, label and (M)SDS must comply fully with the specific law and regulation chosen, and not a combination of the two WHMIS systems.
• Phase 2: June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018 – requires the adoption of the new requirements WHMIS 2015 for both manufacturers and importers (suppliers) but distributors and employers will be permitted to use either.
• Phase 3: June 1, 2018, to December 1, 2018 – require that all suppliers and distributors are compliant with the new GHS requirements but still allows employers (workplaces) another six months to be compliant.
Although the two systems align for the most part, there are some variances between the Canadian WHMIS 2015 and US HazCom 2012 (HCS) versions worth noting:
• Canada implemented three unique hazard classes with classification criteria and labeling requirements; health hazards not otherwise classified (HHNOC), physical hazards not otherwise classified (PHNOC) as well as biohazardous infectious materials.
• Canada also issued classification criteria for combustible dusts, unlike the US.
• For labeling, the need for a hatched border on labels has been repealed as well as the requirement for a statement concerning availability of the SDS.
• Canada has issued a small capacity derogation for products less than 100 mL, with reduced labeling requirements; exempt from the requirement to bear precautionary or hazard statements on the label.
• WHMIS 2015 also differs from HCS in terms of labeling thresholds for carcinogenicity. In Canada labels are obligatory at concentrations ≥ 0.1% for both categories 1 and 2 but in the U.S. category 2 carcinogens are optional for labelling up to 1%.
• Labels on multi-container shipment: HPR includes a requirement where a hazardous product is packaged in more than one container; each container must be fully labelled, unless another exemption applies. Whereas US HazCom requires a GHS label on innermost container only; the outer container does not need to be GHS labelled.
• It is also noteworthy that Canada has issued 39 items with prescribed classification.
• All labels and SDS must be in both English and French.
For countries doing business in North America, the good news is, as quoted on Heath Canada’s web-site; “Through the implementation of GHS, it is now possible to meet both Canadian and U.S. requirements using a single label and SDS for each hazardous product”
The important dates to keep in mind regarding this implementation are:
June 1, 2017: when all importer and suppliers need to be in compliance with the new HPR requirements for both labeling and SDS.
Dec. 1, 2018 when all employers/ workplaces need to be in compliance with the new regulations with the caveat that any products in stock in the workplace have another six months to be used up before GHS applies.
For further information please feel free to contact us at H2 Compliance.