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Environmental and Workplace Health

WHMIS 2015 New Hazardous Products Regulations Requirements

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015 requirements are laid out in the amended Hazardous Product Act (HPA) and the new Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). Please refer to the link WHMIS 2015 - Orientation to see where specific topics are referenced.

This section provides information on some of the key regulatory changes to WHMIS 1988 as a result of the coming-into-force of the modifications to the HPA and the coming-into-force of the new HPR. The Technical Guidance on the Requirements of the HPA and the HPR is now available.

Hazard Classes: The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) includes three types of hazard classes: physical hazard classes, which represent hazards relating to physical and chemical properties, such as flammability or compressed gases; health hazard classes, which represent hazards to health arising from exposure to a substance or mixture, such as acute toxicity or skin sensitization; and environmental hazard classes (hazardous to the aquatic environment and hazardous to the ozone layer). Further information on how each type of hazard class is addressed in the HPR is listed below.

  • Physical Hazards: The GHS physical hazard classes subdivide physical hazards in a manner that differs from the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR); however, nearly all of the physical hazards that are covered in the CPR are addressed by the GHS physical hazard classes. All GHS physical hazard classes except the Explosives hazard class have been adopted in Canada by the HPR. In addition, the following new physical hazard classes have been introduced in the HPR to enhance protections for workers: Combustible Dusts, Simple Asphyxiants, Pyrophoric Gases and Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified.
  • Health Hazards: The GHS health hazard classes subdivide health hazards in a manner that differs from the CPR; however, these classes address nearly all of the health hazards that are currently covered in the CPR and introduce some additional types of hazards that are not currently covered but would enhance protections for workers (for example, aspiration hazard). All GHS health hazard classes have been adopted in Canada by the HPR. The Biohazardous Infectious Materials hazard class (which is not a GHS health hazard class) has been retained in the HPR in order to maintain worker protection, and a new Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified class has also been introduced.
  • Environmental Hazards: The GHS environmental hazard classes have not been adopted in the HPR.

Safety Data Sheets and Labels: The general concept of communicating the hazards of a product on a label and safety data sheet (SDS) through pictures and statements that convey messages about hazards, precautions and first aid measures remains the same under the new HPR. However, different pictograms and statements are required under the HPR than were required under the CPR. The Information Elements Required on a WHMIS 2015 SDS and the Information Elements Required on a WHMIS 2015 label provide guidance on the requirements for SDSs and labels under the HPR.

Exemptions: In the HPR, some of the previous CPR exemptions were removed (e.g., flavours and fragrances), some were retained with modification (e.g., an exemption from labelling requirements for imported hazardous products that are to be labelled in accordance with the Regulations prior to being sold or used in a workplace), and a few new exemptions were created (e.g., bailing a product for the purpose of transportation). See the HPR Exemptions for highlights of some of the exemptions that are included in the HPR.

Variances: Canada and the United States (U.S.) as a commitment through the Regulatory Cooperation Council are working to keep the variances between the two countries to an absolute minimum. The variances that remain are necessary in order to either maintain the current level of protections afforded to Canadian workers or to respect the framework of the Canadian legislation and regulations. Through the implementation of GHS, it is now possible to meet both Canadian and U.S. requirements using a single label and SDS for each hazardous product. Refer to the Variances Between the HPR and the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard 2012 for highlights of some key variances between the HPR and the U.S. requirements.