Keeping Up with WHMIS

Introduction: This podcast is brought to you by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. CCOHS is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron- Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

Host: Welcome to CCOHS podcasts. Joining us today is Matthew McLeod. A senior technical specialist here at CCOHS. Welcome and thanks for talking with me today. Matthew.

Mathew MacLeod: Thank you. Nice to be here.

Host: So, let's get into it. Can you remind me again, what WHMIS is and what the acronym stands for?

Mathew: WHMIS stands for the workplace hazardous materials information system. It is a comprehensive system for providing health and safety information on hazardous products in Canadian workplaces.

Host: We're talking today about keeping current with WHMIS. Have been any recent changes to WHMIS.

Mathew: Yes, there are new updates to the witness legislation. In December 2022, the Hazardous Products Regulations were amended to align with the seventh revised edition and certain provisions of the eighth revised edition of the Globally, Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling also known as GHS. Additionally, WHMIS 2015 will now be referred to as just “WHMIS” and versions of the Hazardous Products Regulations will be distinguished with the terms, “former” and “amended”, where the Former Hazardous Products Regulations is defined as the regulations that were in effect immediately before the coming into force of the amendments. There are some key changes resulting from the amendments. These include improved Clarity and precision for certain provisions, modifications to the information elements required on safety data sheets, the adoption of a new physical hazard class called Chemicals Under Pressure, the adoption of a new hazard category for non- flammable aerosols and new subcategories for flammable gases.

Host: We had what seemed like a long lead up to the implementation of WHMIS 2015. What is the transition period for suppliers this time?

Mathew: So, suppliers will have three years, until December 14th, 2025, to bring their safety data sheets, commonly known as just SDS’s and labels into compliance with the amended regulations. During this three-year transition period, regulated parties can choose to comply with either, the former Hazardous Products Regulations or the amended Hazardous Products Regulations. However, the hazard classification safety data sheet and label of a hazardous product must be fully compliant with the version of the regulation chosen. For example, for a product to be compliant with the amended WHMIS, both the safety data sheet and label must meet the requirements of the amended WHMIS.

Host: What are some of the benefits of these WHMIS amendments?

Mathew: These amendments will have many benefits for workers and suppliers. The changes will result in more comprehensive and detailed health and safety information on product labels and safety data sheets, which will provide better protection to workers. They also help Canada meet its international commitment under the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Forward Plan. Aligning with certain requirements of the revised editions of the GHS will also have significant trade benefits to suppliers due to the harmonized labeling and safety data sheet requirements for hazardous products.

Host: Can you give us more details on the key changes will be seeing?

Mathew: Yes, certainly. So, there is new physical hazard class called Chemicals Under Pressure, which has been added to schedule 2 of the Hazardous product act. The name of the physical hazard class Flammable Aerosols was revised to just aerosols and a new Hazard category, Category 3, non-flammable aerosols was added. New sub-categories were added for flammable gases, which are category 1A and 1B, with pyrophoric gases and chemically unstable gases included in subcategory 1A. Another amendment specifies that all hazardous ingredients which are present in a mixture at concentrations above the relevant cut-off levels must be disclosed, regardless of whether the hazardous ingredient contributes to the classification of the mixture as a hazardous product.

Host: What changes will we see on safety data sheets?

Mathew: The main changes include revisions to the required elements concerning physical and chemical properties. In section. 9 of the safety data sheets. New elements were added such as boiling point, flammability, kinematic viscosity, density, among others. Some information elements were removed, such as older threshold evaporation rate, vapour density and viscosity. That being said, a safety data sheet can still provide these information elements as additional information, as long as it's not false or misleading.

Host: Where can workplaces go for more information?

Mathew: CCOHS has a lot of useful information and resources to keep suppliers, employers and workers informed, up-to-date, and trained on WHMIS. These include fact sheets posters and infographics, and online courses are WHMIS for Workers and WHMIS for Managers and Supervisors. Courses were recently updated to reflect Amended WHMIS legislation. These courses will help managers and workers understand and meet their responsibilities under WHMIS.

Host: That's great! Thanks for all the information and for joining us, Matthew.

Keeping up with WHMIS is everyone's responsibility and there's always time for a refresher on duties and responsibilities.

For a comprehensive selection of women's resources, please visit C-C-O-H-S dot c-a, click the Legislation drop-down, and choose WHMIS.

Thanks for listening.