It’s very clear—Canada is going to adopt the UN’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS), an international system for classifying and labelling chemicals. The only questions are when that will happen and the exact form GHS will take in Canada.
In fact, the process in Canada is already underway. The plan is to align with the US, which has already taken steps to implement GHS. (For information and tools for GHS in the US, go to our sister site, SafetySmartCompliance.com, which has a GHS Solution Center.)
The most recent timeline from Health Canada:
- Spring 2013: Canada hopes to table amendments to the Hazardous Products Act
- Spring 2014: Changes to the HPA and its regulations, as well as other affected pieces of legislation, are finalized
- June 2015: Provinces and territories will have amended their corresponding OHS laws.
A transition period is expected, but you should still start preparing for GHS now. For example, you may start seeing some GHS-compliant safety data sheets (SDSs—the GHS version of MSDSs) and GHS-compliant labels on hazardous substances you get from suppliers in the US and other jurisdictions that have already adopted GHS, including the EU.
However, it appears that few companies are giving GHS a lot of attention at this stage.
We recently asked if your company has taken steps to prepare for Canada’s anticipated switch from WHMIS to the GHS. Results:
- No (53%)
- Yes (24%)
- What is GHS? (23%).
At a minimum, you should start reading up on the GHS, its key components and how it works. The OHS Insider has many resources on GHS you can use to get a sense of how it’ll impact your workplace, including:
- The ‘Globally Harmonized System’ and What It Means to You
- 8 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the GHS
- Recorded Webinar: The Implementation of GHS in the US and Canada
- Recorded Webinar: How GHS Will Change WHMIS.
The WHMIS Compliance Centre also contains information and tools on GHS.