“Thank You for Not Smoking” – Ontario Requires Signage in Trucks

One of the confusing aspects of transporting dangerous goods is the web of different regulations that can affect a shipment. In order to comply fully with a requirement, you must know what regulation imposes that requirement, and carefully study what it says.

For example, an Ontario truck driver was recently inspected while carrying flammable liquids. He was told by the inspector that he should have “No Smoking” signs in his truck.

Now, you might assume that this was related to the flammable liquids on the vehicle. Some regulations on the transportation of dangerous goods do address smoking as a safety issue. For example, the U.S. “Hazardous Materials Regulations” (HMR) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) says in section 177.834:

“Smoking on or about any motor vehicle while loading or unloading any Class 1 (explosive), Class 3 (flammable liquid), Class 4 (flammable solid), Class 5 (oxidizing), or Division 2.1 (flammable gas) materials is forbidden…. Extreme care shall be taken in the loading or unloading of any Class 1 (explosive), Class 3 (flammable liquid), Class 4 (flammable solid), Class 5 (oxidizing), or Division 2.1 (flammable gas) materials into or from any motor vehicle to keep fire away and to prevent persons in the vicinity from smoking, lighting matches, or carrying any flame or lighted cigar, pipe, or cigarette.”

However, many people reading through Canada’s “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations” are surprised to discover that there is no specific ban on smoking near flammable or explosive material (other than the good sense of the workers). In fact, it turns out that the requirement for the “No Smoking” sign on the truck had nothing to do with the dangerous goods on board. Instead, it is a requirement of the provincial Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) of 2006. This makes it a workplace safety issue rather than one aimed at transportation.

The SFOA was created by the Ontario Ministry of Health, and requires provincially-regulated enclosed workplaces to prohibit smoking at all times. While this obviously applies to offices and production facilities, vehicles driven by commercial operators are also “enclosed workplaces,” and must comply with this regulation. An enclosed workplace is defined as “the inside of a building, structure or vehicle that an employee works in or frequents during the course of their employment whether or not they are acting in the course of the employment at the time.”

Note that the Ministry does not exempt company vehicles just because they don’t have a company logo on them. If the driver or occupants are working at that point, the vehicle becomes a workplace.

According to the SFOA, “No Smoking” signs must be posted in all work vehicles where the signs are visible to employees of the company using the vehicle. This could be, for example, on the window of the cab, or on the dashboard. It is also illegal to use the built-in ashtrays of the vehicle, or use another object, such as a soft drink can, as an ashtray inside the vehicle.

The sign must:Smoke Free Ontario

  • be 10 centimetres in height and 10 centimetres in width (that’s approximately four inches per side);
  • have a white background and have a graphic of the international no smoking symbol; and
  • have the Trillium and Smoke-Free Ontario logos shown on the representation of the sign.

Both the driver and the employer can be found liable under this regulation. Fines for drivers who smoke in their vehicle can range from $250 to $5000. Employers are required to ensure that the no-smoking rules are followed. If not, the employer can be fined from $300 to $300,000.

Fortunately, as a provincial Ontario regulation, the SFOA will only apply to provincially-regulated vehicles. Those operating under federal regulations (such as carriers who make transborder shipments) and multi-jurisdictional operators would not be obliged to comply, even when moving through Ontario.

Do you have any questions about special signage while transporting dangerous goods, or do you need to find signs and labels to comply with the regulations? Contact ICC Compliance Center here at 888-442-9628 (U.S.) or 888-977-4834 (Canada), and ask for one of our regulatory specialists.


WHMIS 2015
Ontario Enforcement Blitz – Training for WHMIS 2015 (GHS)

A Little Background

A question that’s been top-of-mind with many in the regulated community is along the lines of “What does Canada’s GHS-modified hazardous products act/regulations (HPR-WHMIS 2015) say about workplace training and labelling of hazardous products?”

The short answer to this question is that the new Federal HPR says essentially the same thing as the previous CPR (Controlled Products Regulations-WHMIS 1988):

”           ” – i.e. “Nothing”.

Constitutionally, most workplaces fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces/territories so they have the responsibility to establish/enforce OH&S regulations regarding what employers must do to apply the Supplier-provided (Federal jurisdiction) information. The exceptions to this are the limited number of constitutionally-designated Federal workplaces- and even in these workplace issues are addressed through separate OH&S regulations under the Canada Labour Code (CLC).

Ontario’s Blitz

The question is perhaps being highlighted in Ontario where the Ministry of Labour indicated earlier this month that they, under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, would be undertaking an “inspection initiative” (aka “blitz”) regarding WHMIS compliance. This initiative, under the “Occupational Hygiene” program focus, is scheduled to run from now through March, 2016.

Inspectors will be looking for compliance with requirements for “labels, msds, worker education, and COMMUNICATION OF COMPONENTS OF THE GHS” (emphasis added).

Follow this link to view the blitz schedule:

The exercise will be complicated by the fact that the WHMIS 1988 regulations can still be applied during the transition period stretching to at least 2018, although the WHMIS 2015 regulations can be used as of February 11, 2015.

The additional spice in the soup is that the US will be using the GHS labels/SDS as of their June 2015 deadline for all new production. Most suppliers who may have been preparing WHMIS labels/msds for Canadian customers will probably discontinue the option (the name of the game is, after all “harmonization”) now that the elements are essentially the same in both countries.

Where GHS Fits

The provinces/territories (P/T) who have spoken on the subject (and Health Canada, regarding the CLC & supplier obligations) have indicated that if labels/msds have not been converted to GHS-format then the WHMIS 1988 requirements apply and will be enforced.

Training and workplace labels have always been an obligation. So if workplace training is to be effective, it must cover the communication elements that are present in the workplace- which could include products with GHS formatted labels.

Until/unless the workplace regulations are updated specifically mandating WHMIS 2015 training, then GHS awareness will presumably only be enforceable (under the administrative statements) if there are HPR-labelled products/SDS in the workplace.
As long as WHMIS 1988 CPR-labelled products/MSDS exist, they must be maintained as before.

Training is Key

So it is in the employers’ interest to start the conversion as soon as possible so that they can take advantage of the benefits of WHMIS 2015 as well as not be “caught” with labels/SDS that they haven’t trained employees to understand.

Recognizing the new pictograms and their relation to the previous system will be the basic foundation required at the shop-floor level.

The workplace labelling requirements are practically not a serious issue during the transition since the current P/T regulations allow for a fairly generic form of hazard communication on employer-produced workplace labels which would allow incorporating GHS elements as long as employees are trained to understand them.

As well as following newsletters and Blogs from ICC and similar sources, various jurisdictions address transitional aspects on the “national whmis portal” website:




2012 Load Restrictions

For Ontario load restrictions, please go to http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/trucks/loadnotice.shtml.

Highway with vehicles

In Michigan:

Effective 8:00 AM Monday February 27th, 2012 weight restrictions will be imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways within the Upper Peninsula in the State of Michigan. State trunkline highways typically carry, M, I, or US designations.

Weight restriction information and updates may be obtained by calling 1-800-787-8960. For companies located in Canada or New Jersey, information may be obtained by calling:

– On routes designated as “All Season Routes” (green or gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map) there will be no reduction in legal axle weight.
Continue reading “2012 Load Restrictions”

In-car Electronics

On October 26, the regulations regarding the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel came into force in Ontario. Yet, with all the advertising and media information about the new law, people are still using their mobile phones, blackberries, etc. while driving.

Enforcement officials have stated that drivers will be given a warning if caught, but there are other areas under the Highway Traffic Act that they can use. And hopefully will.

For just a few bucks, you can get a Bluetooth device so that you can drive while using your device hands-free. Let’s use some common sense and focus on the driving, not the number pad or keypad.

Otherwise, Commissioner Fantino will be coming after you.

Cell phone ban!

Just announced: the province of Ontario will ban the use of handheld electronic devices starting October 26. Handheld devices such as cell phones, blackberries, iPhones, GPS units, DVD players etc. will be banned when you are in the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

There will be a three (3) month education period before officials issue citations.

Speed Limiters

So, some Ontario truckers are upset that the provincial government has imposed speed limiters for trucks, to be set at 105 kph.

One spokesman for truckers says that a trucker needs that extra speed for when the trailer starts to come around. Being maxed at 105 will not allow a trucker to apply the extra speed to straighten out the trailer. If your trailer is starting to pass you, doesn’t that tell you something? For instance, you are not driving to the conditions of the road.

Although many people might regard truck drivers as “professionals”, there are not many out there anymore. A good number of them drive the truck as if it is a sports car, no matter the weather.

Continue reading “Speed Limiters”