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Gaining Regulatory Knowledge

Many of us have heard the phrase, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” at some point in conversation with people. What’s interesting is the phrase was originally “A little learning is a dangerous thing“. It comes from Alexander Pope’s poem called “An Essay on Criticism“. This phase can be applicable when you work in an area with ever-changing regulations. The key is to get more knowledge.

A prime example can be found in a September 2016 newsletter from Responsible Distribution Canada (RDC). This group was formerly called the Canadian Association of Chemical Distributors. In Volume 6 Issue 37 is the headline “Issue being reported with some WHMIS 2015 Inspectors RE: MSDS vs SDS“. In the article, RDC was contacted by a paint manufacturer. The manufacturer indicated that a Health Canada inspector was on the job site causing problems. At issue is the following:

“The HC inspector apparently said the paint manufacturer’s MSDS sheet was not acceptable because a “Safety Data Sheet” should now be supplied instead of a “Material Safety Data Sheet”. The inspector added that this change became effective in 2015 and said that the word “Material” should not be mentioned on the technical sheets.”

According to the manufacturer they have yet to convert to WHMIS 2015. In this case it is the inspector in error and a classic case of a little knowledge being dangerous.

Why?

Let’s discuss Continue Reading…

Toxic
The Zika Virus — Public Health Crisis and Regulatory Puzzle

Zika virus – the name itself sounds exotic and dangerous. It is believed to be a serious risk for pregnant women. And it’s due to arrive in North America. Just how great a danger is this virus, and how should research and medical facilities prepare for the regulatory burden?

First of all, Zika is not a new virus. It has been known since the 1950s in equatorial Africa and Asia, but only recently has it appeared to migrate to new territories, including South and Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. It is primarily a mosquito-borne illness, transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquitos. Possibly climate change has increased the populations of these mosquitos in the areas where Zika is spreading. Aedes mosquitos are found in some parts of the U.S., and although they are not currently believed to be in Canada, they may spread as the climate warms. Person-to-person transmission by body fluids is possible, but this would be relatively rare compared to the mosquito vector.

Zika is classed in the Flaviviridae family of viruses, along with dengue fever, West Nile virus and the notoriously dangerous yellow fever. However, compared to these, Zika is usually a mild affliction. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only one in five persons infected with the virus shows any symptoms at all. For those who do fall ill, the symptoms Continue Reading…

Health Canada Proposes WHMIS 2.0 Timeframe

Update to the Canadian Standard

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is due for its greatest shakeup ever, as the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is introduced to replace the current rules for classification and labelling, in a process sometimes called “WHMIS 2.0”. This will mark the greatest change ever to the venerable WHMIS system, first introduced in 1988, and will be a giant step forward for international harmonization.

The current WHMIS standard is uniquely Canadian, using a classification and labelling system different from those used by other countries. The GHS standard will bring Canada’s hazard communication system in line with the rest of the world. Harmonization should result in significant savings for Canadian manufacturers and distributors, while making sure that workers still receive the information they need to stay safe.

But time is running out for Canada – the European Union (EU) and United States have already implemented their systems, which are due to become mandatory June 1 next year. Health Canada, the federal department that administers WHMIS through the current Controlled Product Regulations (CPR), has little time left to introduce the GHS and have it in place by next year.

The Importance of WHMIS 2.0

Why is this important? WHMIS was developed by Canadians, without considering how hazard communication works in other countries. It uses a unique classification scheme, as well as a labelling system different from both the Continue Reading…

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?

Answer:
Yes, but progress on it is very slow since it is not a priority.


Question:

Has there been any progress by OSHA on creating more pictogram precedence rules? Right now if you have an acute toxicity classification requiring a skull and crossbones, you would still have to include the exclamation if you had a STOT SE Category 3 material. The exclamation seems redundant.

Answer:
There is “some” discussion on this but, more pressure from industry is needed for this discussion to progress further.


Question:

Is it okay with OSHA to continue using HMIS/NFPA in a US workplace?

Answer:
Yes, but you need to make sure training and other information available on the GHS hazards of chemicals used in the workplace is readily available. Also, by 2016, HMIS/NFPA ratings are updated to reflect any “new” GHS Continue Reading…

Getting Here Soon? – HPR in Canada Gazette I

Health Canada publishes proposed GHS regulations – to continue worker protection while harmonizing with US

The long-awaited proposed Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR – WHMIS 2.0), to replace the Controlled Products Regulations, were published in the August 9, 2014 edition of the Canada Gazette I. These regulations follow from the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and are being re-issued to implement elements of the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) for workplace hazard communication.

Implementation: While there isn’t yet a firm implementation date, Health Canada has formally indicated in the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, introducing the proposed HPR, that the intent is to produce the final version by December 1, 2014. Implementation will include a transition period to start no later than June 1, 2015. The actual date is tied to the “in force” date for the revised HPA (see Bill C-31 – WHMIS 2.0: Another Step on the Journey (GHS In Canada) June 23, 2014), when ordered by the Governor in Council.

There is a 30 day period, until September 8, 2014, for interested parties to submit comments before the final version is prepared.

Content: The proposed text of the HPR is essentially the same as the “pre-Gazette” consultation paper made available in July, 2013. A notable change is referencing the 5th Edition of the UN model (“Purple Book”) instead of the 3rd. In this penultimate version Health Canada has tried to keep Continue Reading…

Canadian Government Tables Legislation to Introduce GHS

Is the Ball Finally Rolling?

On March 28, 2014, the Government of Canada tabled new legislation intended, among other things, to start the introduction of the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This legislation, included in Bill C-31, proposes amendments to the Hazardous Products Act which will, eventually, allow Health Canada to replace the Controlled Product Regulations (CPR) with a new regulation, the Hazardous Products Regulation (HPR). The CPR, and the HPR intended to replace it, create the main federal part of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). The HPR has come to be known as “WHMIS 2.0”, as it replaces the well-known WHMIS labels, symbols and Material Safety Data Sheets for a new, internationally harmonized, style.

As part of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2014, Bill C-31 proposes significant amendments to the Hazardous Products Act, including:

  • Expanded definitions of terms such as sell, supplier and hazardous waste
  • New definitions for “Safety data sheet” (SDS) and “hazardous product”, as used by the GHS, to replace the current definitions for “Material Safety Data Sheets” (MSDS) and “controlled product”
  • Specific requirements for products containing asbestos
  • Prohibitions against labels or SDSs that contain false or misleading information
  • Increased record-keeping requirements, such as keeping documentation on goods obtained from other suppliers, as well as goods sold to Canadian workplaces
  • Significant amendments to section 13 and 14, the main sections dealing with supplier obligations Continue Reading…
Health Canada Gives an Overview to GHS Development

Health Canada has released an overview of proposed amendments that will introduce the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) into Canada. These amendments are intended to align the Workplace Hazardous Materials System (WHMIS) with the United States version of the GHS, known as Hazcom 2012 in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The announcement can be found on Health Canada’s website, at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/consult/_2013/ghs-sgh/amendments-modifications-eng.php.

In this overview, considered a “prepublication” (that is, not officially published in the Canada Gazette at this point), Health Canada lays out the major areas in that will change. Note that these changes may require amendments to a number of regulations, such as the Controlled Product Regulations (CPR), the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations (CCCR), the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act and Regulations (HMIRA and HMIRR), and the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).

The current Controlled Products Regulations will be replaced with a new regulation called the Hazardous Products Regulations, or HPR. These will continue to cover workplace chemicals; presumably, GHS will not be extended to consumer products until the CCCR are amended as appropriate.

The major areas where changes will occur are:

  1. Classification of hazardous products;
  2. Labelling of hazardous products;
  3. Preparation of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets;
  4. Exemptions (full or partial) from the regulations.

1. Classification
In general, it appears Health Canada is attempting to keep the classification system consistent with OSHA. However, there are a Continue Reading…

Canada’s NDSL Has Been Updated

The Department of the Environment, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 has published an amendment in the Canada Gazette Order 2012-87-02-01, amending the Non-domestic Substance List.

Part I of the NDSL has been amended by deleting the following CAS numbers:
52007-36-0 and 709654-72-8.

Part II of the NDSL has been amended by deleting the following CAS numbers:
10979-8 and 16758-0

This became effective on May 26, 2012. Please contact ICC for more information.

http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2012/2012-05-26/html/notice-avis-eng.html#d101