Nola Murphy’s Story
It was in a soft-drink bottle. It looked like lemonade. But 73-year-old Nola Murphy discovered, after pouring herself a glass, that it wasn’t. In fact, it was a toxic mould-remover that a cleaner had left sitting on a restaurant bar. The cleaner had poured the product from a larger container into the soft drink bottle for easier handling.
Mrs. Murphy was lucky – she survived the experience, although she required emergency hospital treatment. But her story, given in an article in the New Zealand Medical Journal, shows how putting hazardous chemicals in unlabeled containers can be a recipe for disaster. (More: The New Zealand Herald)
Many countries, including the United States and Canada, require hazardous chemicals sold to the workplace to be labeled by the supplier. Regulations such as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), set out the basic requirements for such labels (called “supplier labels” under WHMIS, and “labels for shipped containers” by OSHA). But as Mrs. Murphy’s experience shows, many hazardous chemicals still end up in unlabeled containers. They may be poured (“decanted”) from larger containers for convenience. The original supplier label may have been damaged or removed. Or two or more chemicals in separate containers may be mixed together to make a new product. No matter how it happens, unlabeled chemicals create a Continue Reading…
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…
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.
Are any required pictograms being considered by OSHA for combustible dusts?
This topic is in discussion, but there is definitely an aversion to creating whole new pictograms (i.e., non-current GHS pictograms).
Will there be a Word template (like the old OSHA form 174) provided by OSHA?
Yes, but progress on it is very slow since it is not a priority.
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.
There is “some” discussion on this but, more pressure from industry is needed for this discussion to progress further.
Is it okay with OSHA to continue using HMIS/NFPA in a US workplace?
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…
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.
Comments are being reviewed and upon completion, subsequent steps include amendments to OSH legislation, developing guidance documents and training materials, and final publication in Gazette II.
Also, there are important variances to note in WHMIS 2.0 versus OSHA GHS. The phrase “Not applicable” MUST NOT be used in Section 11 of an SDS; and for STOT classifications, suppliers MUST NOT identify a specific organ and route of exposure unless they are 100% positive there are no other target organ effects. A general statement that does not specify an organ or a specific Continue Reading…
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…
Bill C-31 Receives Royal Assent
Canada has taken another step forward in the long journey (this writer attended workshops on implementation in Oct. 2003!) to incorporate Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) elements into the WHMIS hazard communication regulations with final passage and Royal Assent given to Bill C-31 late last week.
The Hazardous Products Act provisions in the “Budget Implementation Act” (BIA-Bill C-31) are only one aspect of this “Economic Action Plan” and arise from the Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council deliberations.
The foundation for WHMIS (officially the “Controlled Products Regulations”) is the Hazardous Products Act. Changes to this act prepares the way for the formal introduction of WHMIS 2.0 (as the proposed replacement “Hazardous Products Regulations” have become affectionately known) by Health Canada.
See all of our GHS solutions for Canada and the USA »
According to Health Canada’s WHMIS Directorate:
“This important milestone in the implementation of the GHS enables the Minister of Health to publish proposed changes to the Controlled Products Regulations, to be renamed the Hazardous Products Regulations, in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This publication will provide another opportunity to comment on Health Canada’s proposed regulations.”
GHS in Canada Changes Include:
Some of the details of changes involve: the aforementioned change from “controlled” to “hazardous” products; including of some of the “guidance” material from the WHMIS Reference Manual into the actual regulatory wording (e.g. a Continue Reading…