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The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) requires that suppliers of hazardous products provide employers, through safety data sheets (SDS) and labels, the necessary information to make it possible to safely use hazardous products in Canadian workplaces.
If suppliers want to protect certain information that is required to be disclosed on SDS and label, they can protect it as confidential business information (CBI) by filing a claim under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA).
The confidential business information (CBI) protection in Canada remained largely the same under WHMIS 2015 as it was under WHMIS 1988. Health Canada is the government body responsible for the protection of confidential business information (CBI) and WHMIS-related laws.
Please refer to the following OSH Answers documents for information about WHMIS 2015:
The protection of CBI is a process that allows certain information, such as the chemical identity of one or more hazardous ingredients in a WHMIS-regulated product, to not be disclosed on the safety data sheet (SDS) and/or label for the hazardous product. A supplier or employer who wants to protect CBI must file a claim for exemption with Health Canada. The CBI process includes a Health Canada review of the SDS and/or label to verify that the hazard and safe use information complies with WHMIS 2015 requirements.
This mechanism balances workers’ right-to-know with industry’s need to protect trade secrets.
The following information can be claimed for exemption by suppliers or employers:
Employers may also claim:
If a claim has been filed to protect the chemical identity and/or true concentration (or true concentration range) of an ingredient, this information must be replaced in the SDS by a reference to the HMIRA claim for exemption information (e.g., an asterisk linking to the HMIRA Registry Number (RN)). The chemical name of the trade secret ingredient must be replaced with a generic chemical name, for example, methanol can be replaced by ‘alcohol’. Additionally, the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) No. and true concentration or concentration range may be replaced with a word such as "Proprietary", "CBI" or "Trade Secret".
|Substance||CAS No.||% (w/w)|
|Alcohol *||Proprietary *||Proprietary* (10-30%)|
* HMIRA RN: 3333 – Decision Granted Date January 1, 2021
If the concentration or concentration range is claimed as trade secret, suppliers are encouraged to provide a replacement concentration range that includes the true concentration or true concentration range.
Note that suppliers can protect the actual concentration or concentration range of an ingredient without submitting a CBI claim by providing one or a combination of two adjacent concentration ranges prescribed in the Hazardous Products Regulations. If suppliers use the prescribed concentration ranges to protect the trade secret, they must include on SDS, immediately following the concentration range, a statement indicating that the actual concentration is withheld as trade secret.
|Substance||CAS No.||% (w/w)|
*The actual concentration range has been withheld as trade secret.
The supplier or employer that is claiming a trade secret must replace the CBI with the HMIRA RN and the date of filing or the date the claim was granted, on the product SDS and/or label.
Health Canada provides a list of Active Claims for Exemptions that shows:
There are links to the official publication notice regarding the filing of the claim and the decision made on the claim. The NoD date also links to any additional information about the CBI claim validity. To verify that the SDS and/or label has an active CBI claim, the HMIRA RN and date shown on the SDS/label should match the information on this web page, and the link to the NoD will provide confirmation that the claim was determined to be valid.
When applying for CBI, certain items and information must be provided, including:
|Table 1 – Complete CBI Application Package Checklist*|
Copy of SDS and/or label.
100% composition of product, including all CAS numbers, chemical identities and actual concentrations and/or concentration ranges.
|Payment information (credit card) or cheque/money order.|
|French translation of generic chemical name(s).|
|All mandatory information on forms.|
|Declaration of confidentiality signed by the individual with signing authority for the claimant.|
*Note: Using the Health Canada Application form is not a mandatory requirement of the HMIRA; however, the information communicated regarding a claim for exemption must clearly and consistently convey what is being claimed as CBI and address the HMIRA (subsections 11(3)(4)) and the Hazardous Materials Information Review Regulations (HMIRR) (sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the HMIRR) requirements.
The information provided must be consistent across all the documents submitted:
For additional information, please contact Health Canada.