The wait is finally over! As of February 11, 2015, the legislation governing Canada’s WHMIS system has officially been amended to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals. What does all of this mean? In a nut shell, it means that Canada now recognizes a system for classification and labeling chemicals that will be commonly used in all countries. The basic requirements suppliers have to use proper classification, and standard labels and safety data sheets (yes, it’s now an “SDS” not an “MSDS”) have not changed. It’s just what you see on those labels and safety data sheets that will be different. New hazard classes will be used, and requirements for what is on a label and an SDS will be standardized to the new global system.
What Canada is calling WHMIS 2015 was approved in the United States in May 2012, so American suppliers may already be using the new system to develop their labels and SDS. In Canada, all suppliers must be in compliance with WHMIS 2015 by June 2018. During the transition period, employers have 3 options to stay in compliance.
- If none of the products an employer is using have WHMIS 2015 SDS or labels, the employer can continue to train their employees to the WHMIS 1988 requirements.
- If the employer receives any products with WHMIS 2015 labeling, they may apply a work site label that complies with the WHMIS 1988 system.
- If the employer receives any products with labeling that complies with the WHMIS 2015 requirements and does not apply a label that meets the requirements of WHMIS 1988, their employees must be trained to both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 classification and labeling systems.
Under both scenario 2 and 3, employers must ensure that the SDS for the hazardous product is the most current version available from the supplier.
It’s in everyone’s best interests to start training their employees to the new WHMIS as soon as they start seeing the new labels go into use. To help with this, Alberta Hospitality Safety Association members will shortly be given access to free online WHMIS 2015 training from the AHSA web site. The training will be launched this spring, so stay tuned!