GHS
GHS in North America and Europe – Where Are We Now?

Isn’t everyone using GHS for SDS’s and labels?

The answer to that is yes, and also no.

The European Union (EU)

In the EU, REACH [Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals] and GHS regulations [Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, or the ‘CLP’] have already been implemented for many years. Most phases of the EU’s implementation plan have already been completed. There is one last remaining date that has not yet passed, however, with respect to SDS’s and labels.

SDS’s and labels for pure substances are required to fully compliant with REACH and the CLP. The last transition date for pure substance SDS’s was completed on December 1, 2012. Any SDS and label for a pure substance after that date, had to be fully compliant with REACH and CLP regulations, and display only GHS information.

SDS’s and labels for mixtures, for products placed on the market in the EU for the first time after June 1, 2015, are also required to be fully compliant with REACH and the CLP, and display only GHS information.

Mixture SDS’s and labels, only for products already placed on the market in the EU for the first time before June 1, 2015, however, may still show old system EU information. These SDS’s and labels for mixtures, may still display the EU’s old system of regulations [Directive 1999/45/EC], which made use of Risk (R) and Safety (S) phrases, as well as square shaped, orange and black symbols. These SDS’s and Labels, have the last remaining compliance date, which is coming up fast, of June 1, 2017. Any SDS and label after that date, will have to be fully compliant with REACH and CLP regulations.

The United States

In the United States, GHS regulations have also already been implemented for a few years as well. All effective completion dates have passed in the United States. All SDS’s, labels, written Hazard Communication programs, and training must be fully compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazcom 2012 GHS standard. The last transition date, for Employer workplace systems, was completed on June 1, 2016.

Canada

In Canada, the implementation of GHS into existing regulations is currently in only its first transition phase. Health Canada’s Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) (ie. the ‘Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System 2015’, or ‘WHMIS 2015’), were only fairly recently published in February of 2015.

In its first transition phase, Manufacturers, Importers and Distributors, may comply with either the existing WHMIS regulation (‘WHMIS 1988’ or the ‘Controlled Products Regulations / CPR’), or the new WHMIS 2015 GHS regulation. SDS’s in this phase, may still be called ‘Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s)’, and labels may still show the characteristic WHMIS 1988 hatched border and circular symbols. Phase 1 comes to an end on May 31, 2017, after which, Manufacturers and Importers must comply fully with the WHMIS 2015 regulation. SDS’s and labels then after that date, which are produced by Manufacturers and Importers, must display GHS information.

In its second transition phase, which begins on June 1, 2017, Distributors may still comply with either the existing WHMIS 1988 regulation, or the new WHMIS 2015 GHS regulation. Employers now will also comply with either regulation. Phase 2 comes to an end on May 31, 2018, after which, Distributors must comply fully with the WHMIS 2015 regulation. Any SDS’s and labels in a distribution warehouse, then, after that date, must display GHS information.

In its third and final transition phase, which begins on June 1, 2018, Employers may still comply with either the existing WHMIS 1988 regulation, or the new WHMIS 2015 GHS regulation. Phase 3 comes to an end on November 30, 2018, after which, Employers must comply fully with the WHMIS 2015 regulation. With this third and final phase, individual Provinces may slightly extend certain aspects of employer WHMIS 1988 requirements, so the rules in place for each individual Province must be reviewed. For example, the Province of Ontario, will allow Federally-regulated Employers to use WHMIS 1988 for products already present in the workplace on December 1, 2018, until May 31, 2019.

Mexico

In Mexico, GHS was adopted even before it was adopted in the United States into OSHA regulations. In June of 2011, Mexico’s Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare published a new Mexican standard, NMX-R-019-SCFI-2011. The standard adopted all building blocks of the UN’s Purple Book, revision 3, including all Environmentally Hazardous categories. The standard, however, was completely optional. Mexico presented the new standard as an ‘alternative’ to its existing standard, NOM-018-STPS-2000.

Then, fairly recently, in October of 2015, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare announced the adoption of a new GHS standard, which will eventually become mandatory. This is Mexican standard NOM-018-STPS-2015. This newer GHS standard adopted all building blocks of the UN’s Purple Book, revision 5, again, including all Environmentally Hazardous categories.

Similarly to Canada, Mexico is now also in a transition phase. Employers in Mexico may comply with the existing standard, NOM-018-STPS-2000, or standard NOM-018-STPS-2014 (this was a ‘proposed’ NOM that was officially adopted as NOM-018-STPS-2015), until October 8, 2018. SDS’s and labels then after that date, must display GHS information.

North America and Europe Reminders

Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Europe, will not be completely transitioned to GHS, across the board, until November 30, 2018, when Canada’s final transition phase for employers come to an end. In the meantime, keep in mind these differing transition and completion dates. And as always, remember that each country or region may throw in side-bar country specific requirements that veer away from the UN’s Purple Book. Review each regulation fully, and individually.

For further information and updates on European and North American regulations, please consult the following website links:

Europe:
ECHA

United States:
OSHA

Canada:
WHMIS

Mexico:
Diario Oficial de la Federación


If you have any questions regarding the GHS, please contact ICC Compliance Center Inc at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-4834 (Canada).

Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ – GHS Symbols on SDS in Canada and the United States

Frequently Asked SDS Symbols Questions

How many times have you thought you understood a requirement, only to second guess yourself about whether you got that right or not? It could be something relatively straight forward, or something a bit more complicated. Everyone has these moments occasionally, especially with the implementation of GHS around the world. At ICC, two of the questions that seem to pop up from time to time, revolve around symbols on SDSs.

Do GHS pictograms have to appear on an SDS?

The answer: No. The ‘pictogram,’ specifically, doesn’t have to appear. This answer, in part, boils down to terminology.

In both Canada, under WHMIS 2015 Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) requirements, and in the United States, under Hazcom 2012 requirements, Section 2 of an SDS is required to list the label ‘information elements’ that are applicable to the product. Hazard ‘symbols’ being one of the required ‘information elements’.

In both the United States and in Canada, ‘pictogram’ is defined as a “symbolalong with other “elements, such as a border or background color”. So a complete GHS ‘pictogram’ is actually two part; a graphic symbol on the inside, and a frame surrounding it. Both countries include an allowance only to show a ‘symbol’ (ie. not a ‘pictogram’), or, just the name of the symbol, on the SDS [Hazcom 2012, Appendix D, Table D.1, Item 2(b); WHMIS 2015 Hazardous Products Regulations, Schedule 1, Item 2(b)].

So … no complete ‘pictogram’ is required on the SDS in the US or in Canada.

If I choose to show a complete ‘pictogram’, and not just the ‘name’ of the symbol on the SDS in Section 2, do I have to use a red frame?

The answer: No. the ‘pictogram’ would not have to show a red frame on the SDS.

As mentioned above, in both countries, what is required on the SDS is the ‘symbol’ and not the complete ‘pictogram’ [Hazcom 2012, Appendix D, Table D.1, Item 2(b); HPR, Schedule 1, Item 2(b)]. What that means, is that if you choose to include a complete ‘pictogram’ on your Hazcom 2012 or WHMIS 2015 SDS (ie. the ‘symbolplus the frame), you can include the frame in the color you prefer since the requirement on the SDS is for the ‘symbol’ only and not the ‘pictogram’. There is no specific requirement in Hazcom 2012 or the HPR to have a red framed pictogram on the SDS. The red frame requirement is only on the label (Hazcom 2012, Appendix C, Section C.2.3.1; HPR, Part 3, Section 3.1).

As an example, Section 2 of an SDS for a product classified as a Flammable Liquid – Category 3 and an Eye Irritant – Category 2A, may appear as any of the following 3 options:

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Label elements Label elements Label elements
Hazard pictogram(s) Hazard pictogram(s) Hazard pictogram(s)
Insert GHS Red flame & Exclamation Mark Insert GHS Black flame & Exclamation Mark Exclamation Mark

Don’t Forget

The above SDS information is applicable in Canada and the United States. Section 2 SDS requirements may vary, depending on what region of the world you are dealing with.

Should you have any questions regarding SDS’s, please contact ICC Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-4834 (Canada).

WHMIS 2015
WHMIS 2015 – The Great SDS “Headache” – Concentrations

New Concentrations and Concentration Ranges Rules

If you’ve begun switching your MSDSs to SDSs under the new WHMIS 2015 regulations, you likely know this headache all too well.

With the publication and implementation of the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR or WHMIS 2015), Health Canada removed the old Controlled Products Regulations’ (CPR or WHMIS 1988) list of prescribed concentration ranges that could be used in MSDSs. These concentrations were in place, in part, to allow some Confidential Business Information (CBI) protection when concentrations varied in a product. WHMIS 2015 now requires disclosure of exact concentrations of ingredients, or the actual concentration range of the ingredient. Actual concentration ranges can only be used if the concentration varies in the product due to issues such as batch to batch variability. You cannot list a range if you have an exact concentration, and simply wanted to “protect your formula”.

Suppliers would be required to file a CBI claim under WHMIS 2015 requirements, if even just to protect the exact concentration of one ingredient on a SDS. A whole host of difficulties may face the supplier in obtaining information that would be needed to complete this type of CBI submission, such as obtaining exact concentration information from suppliers outside the country, where CBI or trade secret requirements are different from those in Canada. In the United States, for example, there is no federal requirement to submit any type of claim to protect an ingredient’s exact concentration on a SDS. The SDS simply has to state that the concentration is being withheld as a “trade secret.” You can imagine the reluctance of a US supplier in providing information that they consider to be a trade secret.

This new requirement to submit a CBI claim for exact concentrations can result in significant additional costs. Fees for an original claim begin at $1800 CAD per claim, with review fees every three years of $1440 CAD per claim. Sometimes the supplier can group several products into one claim; however, costs for submission could skyrocket depending on just how many products are being submitted. The non-profit trade association Responsible Distribution Canada (RDC) estimates that the impact of those submission fees to members of the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA) will be over $12 million.

Alternatives

There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, however. As a result of this substantial cost burden, the RDC, as an industry representative, has requested that Health Canada amend the HPR to include some kind of alternative to disclosing exact concentrations that avoids having to file a costly CBI claim. The RDC believes that the use of ranges does not diminish protection of workers, and that the new requirements in WHMIS 2015 creates disharmony rather than harmony between Canada and its major trading partners.

In the RDC Newsletter Volume 6 Issue 43, issued November 7, 2016, the RDC presented a proposal that would allow the use of the WHMIS 1988 prescribed ranges again, with the added ability to combine up to three of the low end ranges into a single range (e.g. 0.1 – 1%, 0.5 – 1.5% and 1 – 5%, into one range of 0.1 – 5%). The additional stipulation of allowing those combined low end ranges, would, the RDC believes, allow for better alignment with US requirements.

Open for Suggestions

In previous meetings with Health Canada, the RDC and other industry groups did not come to a resolution on this issue of concentration disclosure, but Health Canada is willing to listen to solutions to this issue such as the current RDC proposal. The RDC has requested help from interested parties on approaching Health Canada, and is asking that suggestions from interested parties be sent to Cathy Campbell at: ccampbell@rdcanada.ca. Please submit your suggestions prior to November 30, 2016.

If you would like to learn more about the RDC, please consult the following website: http://www.rdcanada.ca/. For further information on CBI exemptions and claims in Canada, please consult the following website: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/occup-travail/whmis-simdut/hmira-lcrmd/index-eng.php.


As always, should you have any questions regarding SDSs, please contact ICC Compliance Center Inc at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-4834 (Canada).

7 Health Canada & OSHA FAQs

FAQs Arising from My Attendance at the SCHC Conference

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Q&A session at the fall session of the SCHC conference. The session included speakers from OSHA and Health Canada. There were a number of great questions, and here are some of those questions and answers that stood out to me.

Question:

Are any required pictograms being considered by OSHA for combustible dusts?

Answer:
This topic is in discussion, but there is definitely an aversion to creating whole new pictograms (i.e., non-current GHS pictograms).


Question:

Will there be a Word template (like the old OSHA form 174) provided by OSHA?

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GHS In Canada – Are We There Yet?

WHMIS 2.0 Comment Period

It should be no surprise by now that Canada is moving ahead with GHS, or WHMIS 2.0 implementation, and that a comment period was available. The target is still to synchronize the WHMIS GHS implementation with the US OSHA date of June 2015.

During the comment period Health Canada formally received 67 submitted “comments” from industry on the WHMIS 2.0 proposal in Gazette I – mostly for support of the GHS initiative. One comment focused on aerosols and the fact that the proposal indicates it is in alignment with the 5th revised edition of the GHS purple book. But, manufacturers would currently still have to assign a compressed gas classification under the proposal as it stands now. The 5th edition, though, drops the compressed gas designation for aerosols. Health Canada is investigating this issue.
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Online or Mail Order Shopping – A Reminder for Responsible Shopping and Product Safety

Most people have seen, at one time or another, ads for new children’s products or household/personal use products on the television, or online, with what appears to be an ‘amazing’ deal… those famous ‘limited time offers’ with the amazing deal to ‘purchase now and you’ll get two products for the price of one’.Shoppers need to keep in mind that it’s not always just about the ‘deal’.

When shopping online or via mail, shoppers need to keep in mind that some products may be prohibited in your home country and others still may have special safety requirements that are actually more strict than the safety requirements for the same product in other countries. The more you know about the health, environmental and user risks of the product you are about to purchase, the better you can protect the health and stability of both you and your family. If you do not practice responsible shopping, you can end up putting yourself and your family into some sticky situations.
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4th Revised Edition of the ‘Purple Book’ (GHS) – What’s new

In June of 2011, the fourth revised edition of the UN’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS, Rev.4) was issued.
 
The changes in the latest revision include two new hazard categories : chemically unstable gases and non-flammable aerosols.  These new categories account for hazards not previously addressed where special precautions are needed when handling, storing or transporting these items.  Acetylene, a commonly used welding gas is an example of a ‘chemically unstable gas’.  Acetylene is unstable and can explode without an ignition source at pressures as low as 25 psi (172 kPa).  For that reason, Acetylene is normally sold ‘dissolved’ in porous Acetone to allow for higher pressures.  Additionally, a non-flammable aerosol, still presents a pressurization hazard and can explode if heated, even though it is not technically ‘flammable’.
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Canada’s new Consumer Product Safety Act – The new ‘Law of the Land’

Every year in Canada, there are thousands of emergency room visits which are a direct result of children, under the age of 10, being injured by consumer products found in and around the home. In an effort to improve the safety of the products that Canadians purchase, Canada’s Health Minister announced on June 20, 2011, that a new Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) is now “the law of the land”.

The purpose of the new Act is to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly children, by addressing or preventing dangers posed by consumer products. The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act places new obligations on industry, not with consumers, to ensure that they are not marketing potentially dangerous consumer products. The Act applies to you if you manufacture, import, sell (includes leasing or distributing product, even if no money is exchanged), advertise, test or package and label a consumer product in Canada.
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