Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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>September 2013

Help Us Out and You Could Win

Go to TreeJack survey pages

CCOHS wants to improve how you find information from our website. We've set up a survey where you'll be asked where you think certain things can be found on our website. In return for participating - the survey shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes to finish - you'll be entered to win a $25 Indigo gift card. The survey will automatically close once the number of desired responses is reached.

Take the survey


Health and Safety Comes to the Classroom

Tools to help students learn about safety in the workplace

Teaching Tools on CCOHS website

Teachers can play an important role in helping their students venture safely into the work world, and we have a tool to help them do just that.

Available both online and in print, CCOHS' Health & Safety Teaching Tools is packed with more than 200 pages of safety information, tips, classroom activities, handouts, and quizzes.

Teaching Tools is divided into five chapters covering the major topic areas of workplace health and safety that are likely to impact young workers: chemical hazards, ergonomics, physical hazards, biological hazards, and sociability issues.

A basic version with the key content is available for free online while a Comprehensive version includes the following additional materials:

  • Activities - Each section contains ideas for activities that will help to reinforce the concepts being presented.
  • Slides - Colourful slides that visually enhance the text are available online as well as on the Teaching Tools companion CD that is included with the print version.
  • Handouts -Photocopy these creative handouts and circulate them to your class for discussion and study purposes.
  • Tests - Test your student's knowledge with sample tests provided at the end of each of the five topic sections.

This resource is recommended for middle and secondary school teachers, although elementary school teachers will find the materials easily adaptable for younger students.

Learn more about Teaching Tools


Effective Workplace Inspections

And how to conduct them, in our latest podcast

Effective Workplace Inspections podcast

Every month, we release new podcasts on current and emerging health and safety topics. Simply download these episodes to your computer or MP3 player and listen to them at your own convenience.

Effective Workplace Inspections

Hazards can exist under desks, on the plant floor, in the air and pretty much any place people work. Inspecting the workplace regularly for hazards is an essential part of a health and safety program. Inspections help to prevent injuries and illnesses by identifying and eliminating existing and potential hazards.

There's more to a workplace inspection than just looking around. It involves listening to people's concerns, fully understanding jobs and tasks, determining the underlying causes of hazards, monitoring controls, and recommending corrective action. This podcast discusses how regular, thorough, workplace inspections by a trained inspection team can help keep workers healthy and safe.

Listen to the podcast

See all CCOHS podcasts

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WHMIS After GHS: What's in Store

How WHMIS will change and how you can get ready

Go to Chemicals & Product Safety key topic web page

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) provides information on the safe use of hazardous materials used in Canadian workplaces. Information is provided by means of product labels, material safety data sheets (MSDS) and worker education programs.

Currently, the WHMIS classification rules, and label and MSDS requirements are unique to Canada. Other countries have their own requirements for hazard communication. With many products moving between countries, these differences in requirements led to inconsistencies and confusion in the way that product hazards were communicated, sometimes adversely impacting health and safety.

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was developed to help standardize chemical hazard classification and communication worldwide. Generally speaking, countries that have implemented the GHS will use the same hazard classification, labelling and data sheet rules. The GHS has already been implemented in many countries around the world including the United States and members of the European Union, two of Canada's largest trading partners.

While GHS will be implemented in Canada, it is important to remember that GHS will not actually replace WHMIS in Canada. WHMIS will be modified to incorporate GHS, and there will be some important changes, but it will still be called WHMIS. There will be new classification rules, and label and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements (MSDS will be renamed SDS).

Implementation of GHS promises to deliver several benefits for workplaces, such as:

  • Providing improved, consistent hazard information
  • Encouraging the safe transport, handling and use of chemicals
  • Promoting better emergency response to chemical incidents

How will WHMIS stay the same?

The roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers are not likely to change significantly due to GHS. Suppliers will still be required to classify hazardous products and prepare SDSs and labels for their customers. Employers will continue to make sure that their products are labelled and that SDSs are available to workers. Training and education will continue to be vital in WHMIS after GHS, as employers must ensure that employees are educated and trained. Workers will still have to learn about WHMIS, labels and symbols (pictograms), and participate in training programs so they know how to protect themselves and their co-workers.

How will GHS change WHMIS?

Classification will be the first area of change. The new hazard classes will have more specific names, such as "Carcinogenicity." Within each class, there will be one or more categories. The category will communicate the degree of hazard, with a Category 1 being more hazardous than a Category 2, and so on. WHMIS will likely adopt all of the GHS health and physical (fire and reactivity) hazard classes. Environmental hazards (e.g. aquatic toxicity) will not be regulated under WHMIS. It is likely WHMIS will continue to include some hazards currently not in the GHS system, such as biohazardous materials.

The requirements for supplier labels will also change and will include a few new requirements. The most noticeable change will be the new pictograms in place of the WHMIS symbols as well as the use of a signal word (Warning or Danger). Depending on the hazard class and category, a specific signal word, hazard statement, pictogram and precautionary statements will be required and must appear on the label.

SDSs will use a 16-section format with standardized information requirements for each section. The current 9-section WHMIS format for MSDSs will no longer be acceptable. Another important change is that the product hazard classification and the required product label information will appear in the hazard identification section of the SDS. The requirement to update SDSs every three years will likely be discontinued.

When will the changes occur?

This is the most frequently asked question related to GHS implementation in Canada. Health Canada is the government body responsible for making the required changes to the WHMIS related laws. They published a consultation document with proposed changes to the regulations in June 2013 with comments accepted until September 15, 2013. Their goal is to publish the final regulations in 2014, and to have the updated WHMIS laws in force by June 1, 2015. "In force" means that suppliers may begin to use and follow the new requirements for labels and SDSs for hazardous products sold, distributed, or imported into Canada at that time.

Provincial, federal and territorial WHMIS workplace regulations will also require updating. It is expected that jurisdictions aim to update these regulations by 2015 or later. Employers will be expected to update their WHMIS program and training to include the alignment with GHS but the exact timelines are still unknown.

It is expected that there will be a transition period to allow suppliers and employers time to implement the new WHMIS requirements.

In the meantime, employers can get ready for the proposed changes in order to ensure a smooth a transition as possible. CCOHS offers many free resources on GHS, including online courses, fact sheets, and posters. CCOHS offers many free resources on GHS, including online courses, fact sheets, and posters.


Learn to Write a GHS Label

On-demand webinar guides you through the process

GHS Label web page

Get an overview of the content and requirements for supplier labels that are compliant with the Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labelling (GHS).

This How to Write a GHS Label session provides a brief introduction to GHS followed by guidance on how to write a GHS supplier label using a 3-step process. Steps 1 and 2 introduce the GHS hazard classes and label elements. The final step shows you how to extract information from the GHS reference document (3rd revised ed.) in order to create a GHS label. Special considerations regarding precedence rules, supplemental information, transport pictograms and updates are discussed, as well as harmonization issues and the potential impact on suppliers.

Upon completion of this recorded webinar, you will have a clear idea of what information is required on a GHS supplier label and will be able to confidently create a GHS-compliant label.

The 1-hour session is ideal for anyone with responsibility for creating GHS labels for products, or for those who may encounter a GHS label in the workplace and need to have a better understanding of the information that it provides.

Learn more and purchase the webinar


About LIAISON

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