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April 30, 2014

Bill C-31 lays groundwork for implementation of Global Harmonized System in 2015

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The Canadian Government is continuing efforts to harmonize our current WHMIS system with international labelling and safety protocols by implementing the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Bill C-31 begins to lay the groundwork for these changes.

The government’s goal is to have the updated WHMIS laws in force by 2015 or later. (In force means that suppliers may begin to use and follow the new requirements for labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for hazardous products sold, distributed, or imported into Canada at that time). Final regulations are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette Part II later in 2014.

Provincial and territorial WHMIS regulations will also require updating. It is expected that jurisdictions will complete this update by June 2016.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), "overall, the current roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers likely will not change in WHMIS after GHS." However, the way that chemicals are classified, labelled and described will be affected. The new SDSs, for example, will use a 16-section format with standardized information requirements for each section. The 9-section WHMIS format for MSDSs will no longer be acceptable.


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