Implementation of GHS in Canada
Canada has aligned the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
WHMIS stands for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. It is a comprehensive system for providing health and safety information on the safe use of hazardous products used in Canadian workplaces.
The main components of WHMIS are hazard identification and product classification, labelling, safety data sheets, and worker education and training.
WHMIS first became law in 1988 through a series of complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations. This original system will be identified as WHMIS 1988. Updates to implement GHS will be referred to as WHMIS 2015.
During the transition period, employers may receive hazardous products that follow either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements. To ensure worker protection, employers must educate and train workers about WHMIS 2015 as new labels and SDSs appear in their workplaces. During the transition period, employers may continue to have WHMIS 1988 labels and MSDSs in the workplace; if so, they must also continue to educate workers about WHMIS 1988. Employers must review and comply with the WHMIS requirements of their occupational health and safety jurisdiction.
What are the employers’ duties under WHMIS?
When a hazardous product is used in the workplace, employers are required to:
– Educate and train workers on the hazards and safe use of products.
– Ensure that hazardous products are properly labelled.
– Prepare workplace labels, as needed.
– Prepare SDSs, as necessary
– Provide access to up to date SDSs to workers.
– Ensure control measures are in place to protect the health & safety of workers.
What are the workers duties under WHMIS?
Workers will participate in WHMIS education and training programs, take necessary steps to protect themselves and their coworkers, and participate in identifying and controlling hazards.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CONSUMER PRODUCTS ARE USED IN THE WORKPLACE?
Consumer products are those products that can be purchased in a store and are generally intended to be used in the home. They often include cleaning products, adhesives, or lubricants. These products are labelled according to other legislation.
A comprehensive chemical safety program would include both hazardous products as regulated by WHMIS, and any other products that a worker may be exposed to (which includes consumer products). Workers should still receive education and training for safe use of these products.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN INSPECTOR VISITS THE WORKPLACE?
Inspectors have the authority to ensure that occupational health and safety legislation is being followed. For WHMIS, for example, employers should be prepared to:
– Demonstrate that a WHMIS program is in place.
– Show where the SDSs are for the hazardous products used at that workplace.
– Show that hazardous products in use have the appropriate labels.
– Show education and training records for employees who work with or may be exposed to a hazardous product.
Inspectors may need to speak to workers to confirm that education and training has taken place. Workers should be able to answer these questions for every hazardous product they work with:
– What are the hazards of the product?
– How do I protect myself from those hazards?
– What do I do in case of an emergency?
– Where can I get further information?
(ALL INFORMATION TAKEN FROM THE CANADIAN CENTRE FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY)