WHMIS 2015
WHMIS 2015 Delayed Implications

Young female Industrial Worker

The Cat Came Back – WHMIS 1988 Lives!

More Than Just a Date

As reported in Karrie Monette-Ishmael’s May 19 Blog, an order-in-council resulted in an extension to the Supplier deadlines for compliance with the GHS-based Hazardous Products Act/Regulation (WHMIS 2015). Canada Gazette II (CGII), published on May 31, provided some insight into the delay in the supplementary Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) associated with the extension.


The transition extension itself (from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018 for manufacturers/importers; and from June 1, 2018 to September 1, 2018 for distributors) was cut and dried. However, the details in the RIAS are a reminder that despite the harmonization focus, there are still some unresolved issues in implementing the new hazard communication system.


Confidential business information (CBI) in the context of WHMIS has always focussed on masking the disclosure of ingredients on the M(SDS). Officially, Canadian suppliers were expected to rely on the somewhat costly and administratively burdensome Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA) process to obtain exemptions from disclosing CBI. Practically the provisions in the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR or WHMIS 1988) were used by most suppliers as a simpler alternate to protect CBI.

Although this was the practise almost from the start of WHMIS 1988, it appears to be news to the current organisation- to wit, in the “Background” section of the RIAS: “Health Canada officials have learned that . . . some companies protected their CBI…by disclosing…ranges rather than using the . . . HMIRA.” I recall the discussions in the early days of WHMIS 1988 and, although unfortunately I don’t have copies, some documented acceptance of the practise as an alternate to the HMIRA as long as it wasn’t abused.

The stated main purpose of the extension is to allow Health Canada some time to prepare a palatable alternative to the WHMIS 1988 concentration ranges – which some in the regulated community have dubbed “CBI Light”. “CBI Light” presumably could allow for ranges, albeit narrower than in WHMIS 1988, and restrict their use for higher hazard “CMRs” (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins and sensitizers of the respiratory tract) as discussed in the “Consultation” section of the RIAS.

“WHMIS 2017”?

The RIAS includes the thought that some other stakeholder issues could be considered as part of the review. Chief among these is Labour’s desire to bring excluded products (e.g. consumer products and manufactured articles) under the WHMIS umbrella. Given the heavy discussions (again the writer attended some of these in the early 2000’s as an active member of regulated industry) that took place to introduce WHMIS 2015 (the original goal was for 2003!) – I suspect the issues around incorporating the Hazardous Products Act s. 12 exclusions may not come to fruition during the CBI discussions.

Suppliers Beware!

A significant number of suppliers have progressed far enough along the WHMIS 2015 trail that the transition will not have a serious impact on their transition. However, those who have not completely transitioned need to keep in mind that the CGII notice did not change the transition philosophy that prevents “mixing and matching” between WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 requirements. i.e. Labels and SDS must correspond- as must labels and MSDS. Classification differences could also be problematic if warnings on “GHS” labels were not reflected in WHMIS 1988 MSDS. Similarly, the “expiry” dates on MSDS would still apply to supplies under the older system. Prolonging the transition potentially prolongs the opportunity for non-compliance.

The transition extension does presumably provide for some relief on direct shipments where the Canadian supplier could still take advantage of the exemption, in the CPR s.23, to have (with written agreement) the customer label the material on receipt.

Employers Ditto (Sigh …)

The RIAS “Consultation” section indicates that some employer stakeholders were concerned that extending the transition for suppliers would, in effect, decrease the implementation window for workplaces. This interpretation indicates a false sense of complacency in the “employer” community’s need to establish training and procedures for WHMIS 2015.

As the Health Canada naming conveys, the GHS-based system has been “legal” for use since the CGII adoption in February 2015. Proactive companies, particularly those with significant US customers (US HazCom 2012 was, after all, mandatory in 2015), may already supply to WHMIS 2015 requirements.

The majority of Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) jurisdictions have updated their workplace regulations. Despite the FPT transition provisions, the expectation is that employers will, at minimum, train employees in WHMIS 2015 sooner if products received are supplied under the new system.

Why Wait?

It would seem only prudent to undertake WHMIS 2015 training well before the “official” workplace implementation date. Items outlined as under review in the RIAS are unlikely to require significant changes to employee awareness requirements in understanding the new GHS-based classification, labelling and SDS aspects.

The May 31 CGII contains 2 separate notices: SOR/2017-92 for the new June 1, 2018 manufacturer/importer deadline; and SOR/2017-93 for the September 1, 2018 distributor deadline. The former contains the RIAS for both notices, found under the above SOR (referencing ‘Order Fixing . . . Economic Action Plan 2014″) at:


If you have any questions regarding WHMIS 2015 implementation, please contact ICC Compliance Center, Inc. at 1.888.442.9628 (USA) or 1.888.977.4834 (Canada).

WHMIS 2015 – June 2017 Deadline Extended

What You Should Know About Shipping Lithium Batteries by Air

Lithium battery shipping is still a very hot topic. Do you ever ship equipment powered by lithium batteries to other locations? Lithium batteries are included in almost all electronics like mobile phones, laptops, cameras, etc.

Are lithium batteries considered dangerous goods?

The answer is yes, because those batteries present both chemical and electrical hazards. Dangers associated with lithium batteries include chemical burn, fire, and electrical shock. They can overheat and ignite under certain conditions. Once ignited lithium batteries can be difficult to extinguish. Therefore, batteries and battery-powered devices can be a safety risk when transported by air.
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A Reminder – US Shipping Description Changes Becoming Mandatory for 2013

We’ve turned our clocks backwards, started our holiday preparations, and maybe even bought new calendars for 2013. But there’s one other thing that should be on our minds for the New Year, at least for shippers in the United States. We must make sure that our shipping descriptions are in order.

In 2006, a Final Rule, Docket No. PHMSA–06–25476, known as HM-215I, was issued by the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The goal of this rule was to bring the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) into line with the current UN Recommendations for Transport of Dangerous Goods. One major change was that the shipping description order, as described in 49 CFR section 172.202(a), would be rearranged to reflect the international standard.
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2013 IATA DGR to Incorporate De Minimis Provisions

A question we are often asked at ICC Compliance Center is “how small does a dangerous goods shipment have to be to not be regulated?” Not just limited quantity, not just excepted quantity – totally not regulated. Common sense tells us that, at a certain level, tiny amounts of dangerous goods do not pose a hazard during transport. Unfortunately, until recently, this question was not really addressed directly, other than by using other small quantity provisions, such as limited quantities.

However, the UN Subcommittee on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods has been working on this issue, and the question has started to be answered by various regulations based on the UN Recommendations. For example, starting in 2013, shippers by air who use the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (TIs), and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), will be able to ship very small amounts of dangerous goods as non-regulated under the so-called “de minimis” provisions.
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A Tip in Preparation

With the changing seasons, comes a change in weather that may affect your area with storms and natural disasters.

According to The American Red Cross, the internet – including online news sites and social media platforms – is the third most popular way for Americans to gather emergency information and let their loved ones know they are safe.

flooded roads or water main breaks can be dangerous.

Through the use of everyday technology; individuals, families, responders and organizations can successfully prepare for, adapt to, and recover from disruptions brought on by emergencies and/or disasters.

If your cell phone is an indispensable part of your daily routine, then you may find emergency information text messages from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to be a valuable asset. Use your cell phone’s text messaging capability to receive text message updates from FEMA (standard message and data rates apply).
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Hazardous Materials: Harmonization with International Standards

August 15, 2012

This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is part of a continuing effort to maintain alignment with international regulations and standards through a biennial process to harmonize the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171 to 180) with international regulations and standards.

The following are some of the more noteworthy proposals in this NPRM:

Incorporate Revised Standards: PHMSA proposes to incorporate by reference the newest versions of various international hazardous materials standards including the 2013–2014 International Civil Aviation
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President Signs ‘‘MAP–21’’ Highway Bill

On July 6, 2012 President Obama signed into law the ‘‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’’. The current highway bill was on its ninth temporary extension and set to expire on June 30.  The law reauthorizes the federal-aid highway and transit programs through September 30, 2014.

In addition to ensuring urgently needed road, bridge, transit, and rail improvements will get underway; the Act has provisions applicable to a broad range of programs and issues.

Some of the issues and concerns addressed:

  • The law initiates improvements to port infrastructure by permitting the full spending of the more than $6 billion surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Fund. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that needed port channel repairs run in the billions, and that our busiest ports can only use 50 percent of their capacity 95 percent of the time.
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Ergonomics for Work and Play

Ergonomic conditions are disorders of the soft tissues often caused by factors such as overexertion while lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or reaching, among other causes.

Each June, the National Safety Council encourages others to get involved and participate in National Safety Month. NSM is an annual observance to educate and influence behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Each week of the month carries a theme to bring attention to critical safety issues. This week, NSC is releasing helpful information and materials on preventing ergonomic conditions, such as overexertion.
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What do you do for a living?

I always cringe when someone asks me what I do for work. Not because I dislike my job (in fact, I’m one of the few people I know who truly enjoys their work) but because it’s so complicated to explain what I do! Sure, I could simply say I’m a Regulatory Specialist and let them stare at me blankly and try to figure out what that means, but they usually expect more of an explanation.

After going through the explanation for a new acquaintance yesterday, I got to thinking that many of our customers may not know exactly what ICC’s Regulatory Specialists do either. Some of my “regular” customers only deal with one aspect of my expertise, and are often surprised when they learn how many hats I really wear on a regular basis. After 8 years on the job, I have collected many responsibilities to keep me on my toes.
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Carbon Monoxide Protection with Woodstoves

If you’re like me, falling leaves with shorter days and longer nights only preambles coming months of cold and snow. If you’re like most, you’re concerned about increased energy costs and how you’ll efficiently heat your home this winter. How to conserve energy while keeping warm during the colder months is a major concern for most energy conscious people. And most everyone has their view on which way is best. For wife and I, we have spent much money, time and hard work to weatherize our home with insulating and sealing materials and doors. We are gradually eliminating the energivores in our home with higher efficiency appliances and equipment – like our woodstove. Our most recent investment should benefit us with 70.1% efficiency with a heat output of 68000 BTUs for an area of 800 to 2000 ft2. Since it is Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) approved and certified, I should expect it to produce from 2 to 7 grams of smoke per hour. Compared to our old non EPA certified stove that released, I’m assuming, 15 to 30 grams of smoke per hour, we’ve taken a step in the right direction.
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