The primary goal of the UN’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is to implement a single, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) that’s used across the world.
Having a unified approach to hazardous chemicals is especially important between Canada and the US, which are both neighbours and trading partners. That’s why OSHA and Health Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2013 to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the GHS in their respective jurisdictions.
The US implemented GHS first, releasing its Hazard Communication Standard in March 2012 (SafetySmart Compliance has details on transitioning to this new standard). Canada then amended the Hazardous Products Act and published the final Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) in Feb. 2015, creating what’s now called WHMIS 2015.
Although the Canadian and US versions of GHS are similar, there are some differences.
But OSHA recently announced today that it’ll continue its partnership with Health Canada to align their regulatory approaches to labelling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals through the Regulatory Cooperation Council. The goal of the partnership is to implement a system allowing the use of one label and one SDS that would be acceptable in both countries.
The OHS Insider will stay on top of any developments as to the GHS and WHMIS 2015. In the meantime, the site has various resources to help you understand and transition to WHMIS 2015 in your workplace, including:
- A recorded webinar on what Canadian employers need to know about WHMIS 2015
- A chart tracking the progress on implementing WHMIS 2015 across Canada
- A special report on WHMIS 2015
- New SDS requirements
- New supplier label requirements.