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).

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