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

WHMIS 2015
WHMIS 2015 Update – Ontario Joins the Fold

UPDATE – The June 29 Canada Gazette II contains the Federal Canada Labour Code adoption of WHMIS 2015 into the various CLC OHS Regulations (SOR 2016/141).

The amendments are effective immediately with an employer operating transition period until Nov. 30, 2018 – i.e. WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 may be used for products in/entering the workplace.

WHMIS 1988 may be used for products already present in the workplace at Dec. 1, 2018 until May 31, 2019.

Details can be found:

Watch our Blog site for more information

Formal Transition to WHMIS 2015

July 1st Ontario begins the formal transition to WHMIS 2015- Ontario Gazette June 25, 2016 –O.Reg. 168/16 amends O. Reg. 860

Ontario employers must prepare to convert their workplace programs to WHMIS 2015 during the period from July 1, 2016 through May 31, 2018. Stock under WHMIS 1988 already in the workplace may continue to be used until Nov. 30, 2018. Product received under WHMIS 1988 must comply with supplier labeling requirements (e.g. hatched borders/symbols) and MSDS requirements (e.g. 3 year “expiry” date) under the WHMIS 1988 (CPR) regulations.

Introducing new products under WHMIS 2015 will require training workers in WHMIS 2015 before they are used.

This information is referenced in the amended O. Reg. 860 s. 25.1 “Transition”; and the enforcement policy as last reviewed December 2015:



As before, the majority of details are contained in the amended O. Reg. 860 (WHMIS) under the ON Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act. However readers are reminded that Part IV “Toxic Substances” of the OHS Act itself, deals with WHMIS issues in s.37-41.

In addition to the requirement to the general requirements in making available SDS to the workplace parties, the amended OHS Act requires making them “readily available to those workers who may be exposed”. The same section (38) also clarifies that SDS may be in an electronic format, while stipulating that the JHSC/Rep must be consulted on the means of making them available. Instruction and training requirements remain unchanged from the existing provisions in s. 42(3).

O. REG. 860

O.Reg. 860 has modified the definition of hazardous waste (subject to workplace labelling) to include that which is “acquired or generated” rather than “sold” for recycling or recovery. In keeping with the “may be exposed” in SDS provision in s. 38 of the Act; s. 6.(2) of O. Reg. 860 requires education of “workers who may be exposed…” rather than only those who work “in proximity”.

The revised s. 17(1) appears to remove some (not all!) of the responsibility from the employer to research for new information, presumably due to the potential reduction in ingredient disclosure presented by the elimination of the Federal IDL. Also the obligation to solicit an updated – i.e. “current” SDS is no longer in O. Reg. 860 (This contrasts with other jurisdictions- e.g. BC, NT-NU, YT- where the employer is expected to check the status of a 3 year old SDS with the supplier.).


As most readers are aware, Canada’s 2 –tiered constitution results in a division in workplace hazard communication regulations. The Federal government, via Health Canada establishes the requirements for manufacturers, importers & distributors to have (among other things) the information available for employers to have to use in their hazard communication programs- but what employers are required to do with the information depends on the jurisdiction of each particular workplace.

Consequently full implementation of WHMIS 2015, incorporating elements of the GHS, requires each province, territory and (for workplaces governed by Federal jurisdiction) Labour Canada to amend the hazard communication regulations that apply to their workplaces.

Since the adoption of the amended Hazardous Products Act/new Hazardous Products Regulations (“WHMIS 2015”) in February 2015, five provinces and the territories have amended their occupational health & safety (OHS) Acts/Regulations to harmonize with the Health Canada WHMIS 2015 provisions.

QC, BC, MB, NB (provinces) & NU/NT, YT (territories) all amended their regulations effective between June 2015 (QC) & April 2016. Ontario’s amended OHSA & WHMIS Regulation were published earlier in June, to take effect on July 1, 2016.

At the time of writing, SK & Labour Canada have published draft amendments which have yet to finalized/adopted; while AB, NL, NS & PE have yet to circulate their proposed amendments.

While, in the majority of cases, the changes largely recognize basic changes in terminology (i.e. references to SDS, HPR, updated HMIRA, etc.), some changes will require employers to re-visit training, availability of SDS and workplace labeling. Representatives from Health Canada, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (“FPT”) partners and other stakeholders have developed a “model” WHMIS regulation which is intended to form the basis for all FPT workplace regulations.

The common elements deal with use of Health Canada mandated labels/SDS as the primary hazard communication vehicle- supplemented with the education, training and labelling required for effective protection of workers in FPT workplaces. This model (as with other “harmonization” processes!) still allows for variances among the final FPT regulations for application within the regulatory schemes in use.

Employers should also remember that products “exempt” from the WHMIS supplier label/SDS requirement still usually require workplace hazard identification/communication when decanted (or “transfilled”) into other containers.

Readers are advised to verify the status of WHMIS 2015 regulations in their jurisdiction.

ICC Compliance Center
The Story of ICC

One thing that amazes me after 25 years in business is the fact that (even long time) customers do not understand the spectrum of products, services, and training we offer. After hearing yet another customer say, “we did not know you did that” I was inspired to tell you this story.

Once upon a time, not so long ago there was a train wreck, not unlike Lac Megantic disaster of late. A man who owned a printing company was inspired to start another company and together with his partners started to print products that related to shipping dangerous goods.

With the onset of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (1985), released by Transport Canada, the company was kept busy producing placards, hazard class labels, signage, and other transportation supplies.

Within a few short years Health Canada introduced WHMIS (1988), where supplier and workplace labels were in high demand. In addition WHMIS introduced Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and with that, the introduction of a new arm of the company. Training was also introduced not only for transportation, but workplace safety as well.

In 1991, The IATA Dangerous Goods regulations, and 49 CFR (remember HM-181?) introduced something new called UN Performance Packaging, or commonly called “POP Packaging” at the time. ICC Compliance Center was one of the first companies to introduce packaging and educate companies on its use.

Bring on the new era of computers and the internet. Customers are looking for ways to print labels more efficiently, and host the MSDSs so they can be accessed by all. Software and printers were introduced to the product offering, making “on-demand” a reality.

Rumblings at the UN about a Globally Harmonized System for Classification (GHS) and Labeling were heard, and most would say, “not in my lifetime.” It took time, but eventually, countries around the word began to release plans to adopt and enforce this new recommendation. ICC Compliance Center once again strategizes and develops products, services, and training to help those in the industry with the changes. Finally, GHS becomes a reality in the USA and Canada (2012 and 2015).

Today, ICC Compliance Center serves customers across North America providing more products, services, and training than ever before. We are a one-stop shop for customers who offer, handle, or transport dangerous goods, and workplace compliance and safety.

If you have ever thought of us as “the box company” or “the training company”, give one of our other products, services, or training a try. Happily ever after is only a phone call away.

The End.