Do you draw straws to decide who updates your WHMIS binder? You’re not alone but help is on the way! Health Canada has amended the Hazardous Products Act and Regulations to prompt an update from WHMIS 1988 to 2015. I hear you groan about more regulations but this change is actually a good one for occupational health and safety!
How Does the Update to WHMIS 2015 Propose to Improve Occupational Health & Safety?
Some of the benefits to WHMIS 2015 are as follows:
- Safety data sheets (formerly material safety data sheets) can now be maintained online so communication to employees is easier.
- SDS hazard classification is based on the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UN GHS). So all world countries who have adopted the UN GHS (72 to date) will use the same format of hazard classification. For companies that conduct business around the globe, this means consistent hazard communication and labelling.
- There are 3 major hazard groups: health, physical and environmental. Within these groups there are classes and categories making hazard communication clearer.
- Precautionary statements are standardized based on hazard classification.
- The US and EU have already completed their transition to UN GHS.
- The SDS will no longer expire unless there is a “substantive” change to the classification of the material.
When Do Organizations Have to be Fully Compliant to WHMIS 2015?
Health Canada published the Hazardous Products Regulation in February 2015. So suppliers who sell, import or distribute hazardous materials in Canada may now follow the WHMIS 2015 requirements for labelling and SDS. However, occupational health and safety laws in Canada are a combination of federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictions. To find more information about when your province will complete its transition, please go to Canada’s National WHMIS Portal.
- chemical manufacturers and importers must sell hazardous products with WHMIS 2015 labels and safety data sheets as of June 1st, 2018;
- distributors must sell hazardous products that comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements as of September 1st, 2018;
- employers must complete their transition to WHMIS 2015 by December 1st, 2018.
How do I update my WHMIS collection?
All suppliers must make SDSs available for customers so obtaining copies of SDSs is relatively straight forward. Most organizations now make SDSs available from their company websites. Or a quick browser search should produce an electronic version of the chemical SDS from the supplier.
While you’re updating your SDS collection, why not look for products that can help put your collection to work for you. Contact Rillea Technologies for more information or if you’d like expert help in completing your transition to WHMIS 2015.