The new WHIMIS 2015 program involves GHS-integrated updates to the previous WHMIS 1988, hazard communications system. As part of the newly amended WHMIS system, updated MSDS sheets are now simply referred to as SDS (Safety Data Sheets) sheets. For WHMIS 2015, updated MSDS sheets (SDSs) use the GHS standardized 16-heading format as opposed to the 9-heading format seen in WHMIS 1988; keep in mind that the headings of sections 12-15 are required in the overall format of the updated MSDS sheets but in Canada, the provision of info in these sections is optional. The standardized 16-section format of updated MSDS sheets (SDSs) harmonizes with the internationally recognized format described in GHS’s 5th revised edition (The Purple Book) by arranging the headings in one specific order (Col 1. of Sched 1 of the HPR). A comparison between the CPR (WHMIS 1988) and HPR (WHMIS 2015) suggested M(SDS) headings and their order is outlined in the table below.
Countries that have already adopted, or intend to adopt, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals will use the 16-section format complying with the UN international regulations, which minimizes the necessity of reclassification and retesting faced by countries that use independent hazard communication systems.
Canada’s HPR legislature specifically mandates the requirement of bilingually updated MSDS sheets (SDSs) in both the English and French language, accomplished by having French translations; within the same SDS or as a separate but identically translated copy. Also, suppliers were obligated to update MSDS sheets on a 3-year basis under WHMIS 1988 but WHMIS 2015 only requires updated MSDS sheets (SDSs) when presented with significant new data involving a hazardous products’ hazard classification and/or any changes to its handling, storage, and protective procedures. Under phase 1 of the WHMIS 1988 to 2015 transition, suppliers are granted use of either CPR or HPR compliant documents for their hazardous products; that is until the June 2017 deadline, which enforces full WHMIS 2015 compliancy. All suppliers and employers will have classified their hazardous products according to the new GHS aligned system by December 1st 2018 (transition is completed) and further ensure their workplaces have updated MSDS sheets (SDSs) and labels according to the new system.