As of 11 February 2015, Canada joined the international program that aligns systems for classifying and labelling chemical substances. The requirements for Canada’s updated Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are based on federal legislations that have been modified to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labelling (GHS), the amended Hazardous Products Act (HPA), and the newly introduced Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). WHMIS 2015 is currently in-force and as such suppliers, distributors, and eventually employers, must ensure that hazardous products in the workplace have updated WHMIS labels and (M)SDSs.
Labels serve as the first form of hazard communication, alerting users to significant hazards associated with the product along with basic precautionary and safety information. Fortunately, WHMIS 1988 labels may simply be altered such that they align with GHS labelling requirements. As a result, transitioning to WHMIS 2015 labels should be straightforward. Two different types of WHMIS labels exist: supplier labels and workplace labels. Supplier labels are affixed by the supplier or importer prior to any hazardous products being received in the workplace. Workplace labels are used in instances where hazardous products are manufactured in the workplace, decanted into another container for workplace use, or when re-labelling is required due to damaged, illegible labels. Supplier labels contain more information than workplace labels and require the following informational elements: product identifier, initial supplier identifier, pictogram(s), signal word, hazard statement(s), precautionary statement(s), and optional supplementary information.
The regulations for workplace WHMIS labels are still being established under WHMIS 2015 as federal labour legislations are also subject to provincial/territorial judiciaries. As of now, some requirements include the product name, safe handling precautions, and a reference to the SDS. The 3-phase implementation of WHMIS 2015 culminates on 1 December 2018, allowing enough time for workers, employers, and suppliers to gradually transition into meeting the new labelling and SDS requirements. It is recommended that suppliers, employers, and workers prepare for and learn about the new WHMIS system prior to deadline dates. Nexreg has an extensive list of related glossary terms and several blog posts and news articles that expand upon labour legislations world-wide. To find out more information, take a look today!