If you are a chemical supplier selling a product into Canada and the United States and are hoping to simplify your hazard communication, combined OSHA-WHMIS labelling may be an option for you.
To reduce the regulatory burden on stakeholders in the Canada and US markets, the Canada-United States (U.S.) Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) works in collaboration with both governments and seeks to align the hazard communication regulations between the two countries to the greatest extent possible. The goal of the RCC is to have a single Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and a single label that can be used in both countries without compromising compliance or worker safety.
Understandably, the main advantage of using a combination OSHA-WHMIS SDS and OSHA-WHMIS label is the overall reduction in paperwork, since only one SDS and label requires revision when there is a change to the data, and all downstream users in the Canada and US markets would receive the same SDS/label. It also allows for some flexibility for the supplier to first sell into one market and eventually expand into the other without needing to produce all new hazard communication documents.
However, combining two countries’ regulations into a single document does present some challenges which need to be considered when deciding if you want to do combined OSHA-WHMIS labelling. For example:
- How will you handle confidential business information? To withhold the identity of a chemical requiring disclosure on a Canadian SDS, the supplier must file a claim under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA). At present, there is no such requirement to withhold chemical identification on a US SDS. Are you willing to submit the paperwork for a HMIRA claim if you are only selling the product in the US at the moment?
- Depending on the hazards or the product components, there could be significantly more data that needs to be listed on an OSHA-WHMIS SDS compared to a single country SDS. Are you confident the users of the SDS will easily be able to find the information they need when they have more text to read through? Do you have enough space on your label to include all the required label elements in both English and French to be compliant in Canada? If you prefer to include Spanish translations for US users, will there be enough room to include all three languages on the label?
- While the RCC tries to make hazard communication implementation between Canada and the US similar, the timelines for implementation are not always the same which means a safety data sheet or label that was recently updated according to one regulation may require further updates to comply with the other regulation if amendments are made. For example, recent amendments to Canada’s regulations are already in transition to update to Revision 7 of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), while amendments to the US regulations are still pending. Consequently, a combination SDS created according to the updated Canada regulations will need to be reviewed and updated as needed when the US regulations are finalized.
- There is no official guidance for combining OSHA and WHMIS hazard labelling. Are you familiar enough with the regulations to ensure your combined document is compliant in both countries, or do you require assistance from a compliance expert?
If you are unsure whether or not combined OSHA-WHMIS labelling is a good fit for your product, Nexreg’s team can help assess your options and provide the regulatory documents you require. Click here for more information on our SDS Authoring services.