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Health Canada Announces GHS Transition Deadlines, Proposes Close Compatibility with U.S. Model

Feb 11, 2015
Canada

This morning, a new edition of the Canada Gazette II — the official newspaper of the Government of Canada — announced the specifics of Health Canada’s transition to a GHS-aligned hazcom standard to be called WHMIS 2015. The transition will involve a gradual phase-in, culminating in the complete adoption of a GHS-aligned system by December of 2018. Once adopted, the new standard is intended to function in close harmony with the U.S. version.

The following graph—reproduced from the Gazette—outlines Health Canada’s transition for manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers from the pre-GHS Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) standard to the GHS-aligned Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) standard.

 

Manufacturers and importers

Distributors

Employers

Phase 1—
From coming into force to June 1, 2017

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Phase 2—
From June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018

Use HPR requirements

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Phase 3—
From June 1, 2018, to December 1, 2018

Use HPR requirements

Use HPR requirements

Use CPR or HPR requirements

Completion—

December 1, 2018

Use HPR requirements

Use HPR requirements

Use HPR requirements

 

Phase 1 will be at least two years long. During this time, suppliers and employers can use either the old or new requirements. The second order, under sections 130, 133 and 135 of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, sets the date for the end of Phase 1 and beginning of Phase 2.

Phase 2 will be one year long. During this phase, manufacturers and importers must comply with the new requirements; however, distributors can still ship products with the old WHMIS label, and employers will still be able to receive, use and produce labels and SDSs based on the old requirements. The third order, under sections 131, 132, 134, 136 and 137 of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, establishes the date for the end of Phase 2 and the beginning of Phase 3.

During Phase 3, all suppliers are required to be in compliance with the new requirements. However, employers will still be able to use old safety data sheets and labels in workplaces.

The fourth and fifth orders, under sections 143 and 144, respectively, of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 apply to federally regulated employers. The fourth order sets the date by which employers must be in compliance with the new requirements, unless grandfathered by the fifth order. The latter extends the transition period for employers for any products already within the workplace as of the date established in the fourth order until June 1, 2019.

According to the Gazette, the major benefits of the transition will include:

  • Canadian industry will start seeing quantified benefits ($82 million) as soon as the fourth year of implementation. The benefits associated with imports and exports will be seen even earlier because of advanced implementation in other countries. The net benefits for the Canadian government and industry are estimated to be $391.6 million (PV) over the next 20 years.
  •  Workplaces in Canada should be safer and hundreds of potential workplace injuries should be prevented.
  • The harmonization of the Canadian workplace hazardous chemicals classification system with those of virtually all of our trading partners, including the U.S., will facilitate trade.
  • Maintaining the previous regulatory approach would have meant that Canada’s workplace hazardous chemicals regime would have been increasingly out of step with not only the approach being adopted in the U.S., but also the approach being taken by the vast majority of Canada’s trading partners. Trade barriers would have increased, as would administrative costs for Canadian industries. This would have cost these industries millions in lost revenue.
  • The training of workers will be more efficient and effective, bringing increased health and safety benefits.

In its announcement, the Canadian government also took pains to emphasize it intends Health Canada’s adoption of GHS to comport closely with OSHA’s GHS adoption in the U.S.

According to the Gazette:  “Applying the GHS to Canada’s hazard communication system for workplace hazardous chemicals, and doing so in alignment with the approach being taken by the U.S., Canada’s major trading partner, not only reduces costs for industry and facilitates trade, but also keeps Canada on pace with the global standard for such systems.”

Elsewhere, the report notes that Health Canada: “has determined that implementation of the GHS in alignment with the U.S. approach to the maximum extent possible is the best way to proceed.” [Our emphasis.]

To make its case, the report cites trade statistics showing that the Canadian chemical manufacturing industry imported more than $28 billion worth of chemicals from the U.S. in 2013, and exported more than $24 billion to the U.S. in that same year.

While Health Canada has expressed this intention to align as closely as possible with the U.S., there will still be differences between the U.S. and Canadian versions.

MSDSonline’s Authoring Team has taken a first pass at the 250-page announcement. Their analysis below outlines the HPR and specifically calls out the differences between what the U.S. has adopted in HCS 2012 and what Canada is adopting, in addition to key similarities:

The Highlights:

  • 3 Year Rule Replacement:  SDS and label are exempt from the requirement to reflect significant new information for a period of 90 and 180 days, respectively, from the date upon which the information became available, which is replacing the “3 Year Update Rule.”
  • Additional Hazard Categories:  Includes Combustible Dust, Simple asphyxiant and Pyrophoric gas to align with the U.S. The U.S. includes these hazards but does not provide criteria for classification. Canada has included classification criteria; the U.S. is expected to update soon and include this or similar criteria.
  • WHMIS Ranges Eliminated“If the concentration of a material or substance in a hazardous product is required to be provided on a safety data sheet and the material or substance is not always present at the same concentration, the safety data sheet must provide, in lieu of the concentration of the material or substance, the actual concentration range of the material or substance in the hazardous product.”
  • Biohazardous Infectious Materials (Category 1 Only):  This is not included in U.S. HCS. Classification criteria outlined in HPR.
  • Health and Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified:  Includes Health and Physical Hazards “Not Otherwise Classified,” which is not included in GHS or U.S. HCS. Requires a label.
  • Repeal of IDL and CPR UpdatesBoth the Ingredient Disclosure List and Controlled Products Regulations are repealed.
  • Repeal of Hatched Border on Labels:  The requirement from the CPR for a hatched border around the label content has not been retained, nor has the requirement that the label contain a statement to the effect that a material safety data sheet is available.

    The Details by Part of HPR
    Only parts with key differences, changes or similarities are listed below.

    PART 3 LABELLING

  • Unknown Acute Toxicity Label Element:  In the case of a hazardous product classified in a category of Subpart 1 of Part 8 and to which paragraph 8.1.6(b) applies, supplemental label element “[Insert the total concentration in percentage of ingredients with unknown acute toxicity] % of the mixture consists of an ingredient or ingredients of unknown acute toxicity.”
  • Labels for All Products with Physical and/or Health HazardsPhysical and health hazards considered “Not Otherwise Classified” require labels.

    PART 4 SAFETY DATA SHEET

  • Additional Hazard Class: “Biohazardous Infectious Materials”
  • WHMIS Ranges Eliminated“If the concentration of a material or substance in a hazardous product is required to be provided on a safety data sheet and the material or substance is not always present at the same concentration, the safety data sheet must provide, in lieu of the concentration of the material or substance, the actual concentration range of the material or substance in the hazardous product.”
  • Sections 12-15 Optional:  Sections 12 - 15 may be omitted

    PART 5 EXCEPTIONS

  • 3 Year Rule Replacement:  SDS and label are exempt from the requirement to reflect significant new information for a period of 90 and 180 days, respectively, from the date upon which the information became available, which is replacing the “3 Year Update Rule.”
  • Flavors & Fragrances Exemption:  The exemption for flavours and fragrances was not retained in order to harmonize with the HCS 2012.

PART 7 PHYSICAL HAZARD CLASSES

  • Explosives Not Regulated Under HPR:  Explosives strictly regulated under the Explosives Regulations, 2013.
  • Additional Hazard Categories:  Includes Combustible Dust, Simple asphyxiant and Pyrophoric gas to align with the U.S. The U.S. includes these hazards but does not provides criteria for classification. Canada has included classification criteria; the US is expected to update soon and include this or similar criteria.
  • Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified:  Includes Physical Hazards “Not Otherwise Classified,” which is not included in GHS or U.S. HCS. Requires a label.

PART 8 HEALTH HAZARD CLASSES

  • Biohazardous Infectious Materials (Category 1 Only):  Not included in U.S. HCS. Classification criteria outlines in HPR.
  • Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified:  Includes Health Hazards “Not Otherwise Classified,” which is not included in GHS or U.S. HCS. Requires a label.

PART 9 CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS, TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS, REPEALS AND COMING INTO FORCE

  • Repeal of IDL and CPR UpdatesBoth the Ingredient Disclosure List and Controlled Products Regulations are repealed.

SCHEDULE 4 PRESCRIBED CLASSIFICATION

  • Prescribed Classification:  Not included in U.S. HCS. 39 items with prescribed classification (by CAS or UN number.)

SCHEDULE 5 INFORMATION ELEMENTS FOR SPECIFIED CATEGORIES

  • Supplementary Label Elements:  Outlines label elements for classification categories not included in GHS.


    REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
    (not part of the regulations)

    Labelling

  • The requirement from the CPR for a hatched border around the label content has not been retained, nor has the requirement that the label contain a statement to the effect that a material safety data sheet is available.
  • The HPR are not aligned with the HCS 2012 in respect of the following label requirements for the Carcinogenicity, PHNOC, HHNOC and Biohazardous Infectious Materials hazard classes.

This announcement of Health Canada’s decision to stay close to the U.S. model will no doubt please the many industry stakeholders who had issued calls in recent weeks for OSHA and Health Canada to ensure a Canadian GHS-adoption model very close (or identical) to the U.S.’s.

Look for more comment on and analysis of today’s announcement throughout industry media — and right here on the MSDSonline EH&S Blog — in the days ahead! 

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