As Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) gradually incorporates the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, the ICC Compliance Center wants to give industry a refresher on how the transition will occur.
The Canadian division of the ICC Compliance Center focuses on the safe handling of hazardous goods.
Health Canada’s goal is to have the updated WHMIS laws in force by June 2015. The changes aim for more consistent hazard information, safer transport, safer handling and use of chemicals, as well as better emergency response to hazmat accidents.
According to the ICC overview released on December 19, 2013, the first major transition for WHMIS will tackle chemical classification, or more simply, labeling. The new hazard classes will have more specific names, such as “carcinogenic,” meaning that within each class, there will be one or more categories.
The category will communicate the degree of hazard, with a Category 1 being more hazardous than a Category 2, and so on, ICC explained. WHMIS will likely adopt all of the GHS health and physical hazard classes, such as fire and reactivity.
Environmental hazards, such as aquatic toxicity, will not be regulated under WHMIS. It is likely WHMIS will continue to include some hazards currently not in the GHS system, such as biohazards.
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard will affect hazard classification, labeling, safety data sheets, as well as training. New criteria have been established for hazard classification in order to address physical hazards of chemicals and chemical mixtures. The GHS labeling standard requires that all hazards be communicated properly in an easy-to-understand format using signal words, pictograms, hazard statements and a precautionary statement for individual hazard classes and categories.
Safety Data Sheets will now require a 16-section format, according to the ICC.
Click here to use the WHMIS 2.0 infographic as a reference tool.