Health Canada Seeking Comments on Proposed GHS Regulation

Aug 15th, 2014 | By | Category: Health and Safety

EHS Journal - Colorful Pipes by Carlos Sillero

Canada’s efforts to implement the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) moved forward on August 8th with Health Canada’s release of proposed Hazardous Products Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for public comment. Interested parties may submit comments in writing to Health Canada by September 8, 2014. Comments on affected provisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 may be submitted until October 8, 2014. See the notice from Health Canada for more information.


Objectives and Benefits

The proposed regulatory amendments would support the Government of Canada in facilitating international trade through common labelling and other hazard communication requirements; lowering costs for businesses and consumers by reducing the need for re-testing and re-classifying chemicals from, or for, different markets; and increasing worker protection through the adoption of a globally recognized standard for communicating the hazards associated with workplace chemicals. The proposed approach aligns with the approach being implemented in the United States, which will benefit businesses in both countries. Also, replacing the current Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) with GHS is expected to have a number of health and safety benefits:

  • GHS hazard classification criteria are more comprehensive and detailed than those currently in WHMIS, which improves the ability to indicate the severity of hazards;
  • GHS identifies and addresses hazards not currently addressed in WHMIS (e.g. specific target organ toxicity — single exposure and aspiration hazard);
  • GHS hazard definitions and classification criteria are consistent with other hazard communication systems already in use in Canada (e.g. the physical hazard criteria with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods are already harmonized with the GHS);
  • GHS provides for specific language to convey hazard information, and, as a result, employers and employees are given the same core information on a chemical regardless of the supplier, and the standardization of the language would improve the comprehensibility of the hazard information;
  • some of the GHS pictograms are more easily comprehensible and are anticipated to improve hazard communication, particularly for workers who are not functionally literate, who are not literate in the language used on the label, or who have experience working in other international jurisdictions;
  • while the GHS format for SDSs has been allowed for use in Canada through an administrative policy, requiring the standardized GHS format would help to ensure that information is easier for users to find as it would be presented in a consistent manner across all SDSs and the information that employees and emergency responders need most appears in the beginning of the document for easy identification and reference; and
  • the standardized GHS SDS information requirements are more comprehensive and therefore provide employers and employees with a broader scope of information related to a workplace hazardous chemical, which improves employers’ ability to train and educate workers.


Affected Legislation

Consequential amendments have been proposed for the following regulations:

  • Food and Drug Regulations;
  • Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001;
  • Safety of Human Cells, and Tissues and Organs for Transplantation Regulations.

Amendments have also been proposed for the following regulations made under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999:

  • New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers); and
  • Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations.

The proposed regulatory amendments would also amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Regulations and Hazardous Materials Information Review Act Appeal Board Procedures Regulations to reflect amendments to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act that came into force on April 1, 2013, as a result of the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.


Article Sources

This article was compiled from the Health Canada Request for Comments – Proposal to Implement the GHS in Canada and the proposed Hazardous Products Regulations and Regulatory Impact Statement published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

Photograph: Colorful Pipes by Carlos Sillero, Poto Alegre, Brazil.


Return to EHS Journal Home Page

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Comment