Changes to Hazardous Products Act (HPA): Better Protection for Workers

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The Government of Canada announced new legislation that would mean changes to the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and help move Canada further along in its implementation of GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification) standards.

The changes are part of the government’s Economic Action Plan 2014.

GHS is a global system that standardizes the classification and labeling of chemicals. It was developed to improve safety by requiring that chemical hazards be communicated in a way that is understood by workers on a global scale, regardless of the language they speak. The US, Brazil and Australia are among many countries currently working to implement GHS standards.

Canada already had WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) in place as a chemical safety standard before GHS was introduced. Manufacturers, suppliers, and users of chemicals are required to comply with GHS standards.

The deadline for training employees on new label elements and the safety data sheets (SDS) format was Dec. 1, 2013, and additional deadlines must be met over the next several years.

By June 1, 2015, countries must be in compliance with modified provisions of the final rule, and by Dec. 1, 2015, distributors can’t ship containers labeled by a chemical manufacturer or importer unless they have GHS labels. By June 1, 2016, companies must update their alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program, as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

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