GHS/WHMIS Deadline Moving Closer: Get Prepared Now


As we get closer to the final GHS deadline, it’s important to remember what is needed for your organization to be GHS compliant.

First a little background: The Government of Canada created modifications to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to incorporate the new GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) regulations.

That modified WHMIS is now referred to as WHMIS 2015.

WorkSafeBC explains how WHMIS includes elements of GHS, which has created new standardized:

Hazard Classification Criteria: The new criteria keeps the same level of protection already provided, but incorporates some new hazard classes.

Label Requirements: Supplier labels feature a few new requirements. Most hazard classes and categories have a prescribed signal word, hazard statements, a pictogram and precautionary statements. Supplier labels will still be required in both English and French.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Requirements: Safety data sheets (SDSs) will replace material safety data sheets (MSDSs). SDSs have 16 sections.

Final compliance for WHMIS 2015 isn’t required for employers, distributors, as well as manufacturers and importers until December 1, 2018.

While there is still time, what has your company done so far in preparation of the compliance deadline? What else do you need to do?

GHS/WHMIS Update: What You Need to Know Now


Last month, the Government of Canada announced the modifications to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to incorporate the new GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) regulations.

The Hazardous Products Act (HPA) was amended and was replaced by new regulations, referred to as the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).

The modified WHMIS is now being called WHMIS 2015, and it features the new criteria for classifying hazards and the new requirements for labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).  The Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) and the Ingredient Disclosure List were both repealed.

Suppliers, employers and workers in Canada can use a transition period to adjust to the changes. During that time, they must comply with either WHMIS 1988 (repealed CPR/old HPA) or WHMIS 2015 (HPR/new HPA). The classification, label and SDS must comply with whichever law and regulation is selected.  A combination of the two WHMIS systems can’t be used.

A new website focusing on the transition to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) 2015 has launched, providing a resource for organizations working to transition from the old WHMIS to the new system, which takes on elements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The website,, is targeted to anyone who needs this information, from employers and their workers to suppliers and trainers. was created by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in collaboration with the Workplace Hazardous Materials Bureau of Health Canada.

Continue to check for additional information you need to know about the GHS transition.

Safety News You Can Use


–       The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), in partnership with the Workplace Hazardous Materials Bureau of Health Canada, recently announced a new e-course that will educate workers about the upcoming changes to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) as it aligns with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classifying and labelling chemicals. WHMIS (After GHS) For Workers will be free for the first 100,000 participants, for up to one year.

–       A 17 year old co-op student was killed at a Niagara-area recycling plant just one week after being placed there. The investigation is ongoing, as discussions over co-op students not being covered by health and safety laws continue to heat up.

–       As Canada’s mining industry faces a skilled worker shortage, Women in Mining announced a new Timmins chapter. The organization has been active in Sudbury for five years, and hopes to encourage women to seek careers in mining, an industry where they currently make up just 16% of the workforce.

–       SAFE Work on Wheels, a mobile safety unit designed to generate workplace safety awareness, was launched on September 26th. The initiative was created by SAFE Work Manitoba and features four safety demonstrations: eye protection, fall protection, lifting, and hand safety.

Health Canada Wants Your Input On GHS Updates


In late 2011, the Canadian government committed to implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) by June 1, 2015. The GHS system is intended to communicate health and safety information and hazards regarding chemical products via labels and material safety data sheets (SDS) that will be adopted around the world. The three major hazard groups within the GHS classification system are physical hazards, health hazards, and environmental hazards. Some of the benefits Canada will enjoy as a result of adopting GHS include: increased trade, regulatory, and compliance efficiency; cost reduction; safer transport, handling, and use of chemicals; more consistent hazard communication; better emergency response; and reduced need for animal testing.

In order to fully synchronize with the GHS system, WHMIS-related laws (the Hazardous Products Act and Controlled Products Regulations) will need to be amended on federal, provincial, and territorial levels. Health Canada is the government body responsible for making the required changes, and they have released the latest Hazardous Products Regulations proposal in the Canada Gazette, Part I for public comment. Anyone may comment on the proposed regulatory amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 regulations only. You have until October 8, 2014 to provide comments, which must cite the Canada Gazette Part I, the date of notice (August 9, 2014), and be addressed to:

Amira Sultan

Workplace Hazardous Materials Directorate, Health Canada

Postal Locator: 4707A, 427 Laurier Avenue West, 7th Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9


Telephone: 1-855-407-2665

Fax: 1-613-993-5016

Questions and requests for additional information, as well as comments on the proposed regulations may also be directed to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Directorate. Final regulations are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II by early 2015.

Hot Topic: Farm Safety


The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) reported that an average of 104 people died every year from agricultural incidents between 1990 and 2008. Recently, several Canadian farms have come under public scrutiny for questionable safety practices. An eastern Saskatchewan chicken ranch was ordered to stop hiring underage workers last month, following multiple child labour complaints. In Ontario, police are investigating the death of a North Walsingham tobacco farmer who drove his fertilizer spreader off a 75-foot embankment into a pond.

Agriculture is considered one of Canada’s most hazardous industries, so farm owner/operators have considerable challenges to face in keeping workers and visitors safe. Ensuring the safety of not only workers, but other adults and children who may visit or live on the farm is critical. Prominently displaying safety and first aid signs will communicate a safety-first attitude, in addition to offering guidance. Proper PPE and lockout/tagout protocol is also critical in avoiding machine-related injuries. Be careful in selecting workers who are competent, confident, responsible, and capable to operate machinery. If you need assistance establishing safe practices on your farm, check out The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA)’s comprehensive FarmSafe Plan.

Farms can be fun, exciting, and lucrative – but only if safety is the #1 priority. The Ministry of Labour offers extensive information on farm equipment and general agricultural compliance and safety. The Canada Safety Council offers the following safety training courses that may be of interest to farm operators and employees.

  • ARGO Operator Course
  • ATV Rider Course
  • Confined Spaces Training Course
  • Ladder Safety Training Course
  • Snowmobile Operators Course
  • Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) Side by Side Course
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) Training Course

Be sure and stay on top of industry and equipment-related updates, ask questions, and empower the experts in your facility so that your farm can get the most out of the remainder of the season.

Safety News You Can Use



  • A Workplace Safety course offered in 36 high schools across Newfoundland and Labrador will include free first aid/CPR training. The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) created the initiative to help students develop a positive attitude toward health and safety, both on and off the job. Students who complete the course will enter the workforce as a worker health and safety representative, with WHMIS and first aid/CPR certifications.
  • Alex Keaveny, a Halifax Crown attorney, will join the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service as a resource to investigators in occupational health and safety cases. The province will also hire additional safety division inspectors and engineers, along with creating a division focused on education and compliance. Labour Minister Kelly Regan hopes the measures will help achieve justice in workplace death cases.
  • A Manitoba-based welding and fabrication company is facing a dozen charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. A fatal accident occurred two years ago when a steel catwalk panel fell on 22 year old Dale Jerome. The allegations claim failure to provide adequate protection, equipment, training, and supervision.
  • In an unprecedented decision, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal declared a provision in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act unconstitutional. The provision states that employees suffering from chronic mental stress, unlike employees who have suffered physical injury, are denied access to workers’ compensation benefits. It has been said that the Ontario government will likely challenge the ruling in the Divisional Court.

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


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.

New OHSA Training Requirement for Ontario Employers

Safety TrainingStarting July 1, 2014, Ontario businesses will be required to ensure their employees have completed an OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Awareness) safety training program. The new regulation requires that supervisors and workers take a basic program covering updated industrial safety and health awareness standards, and that these trainings will be documented.

If you haven’t made plans for the transition yet,  Health and Safety Ontario recommends that you start by comparing your team’s current level of safety and health awareness with the new material. After you discover what training is needed, create an action plan to provide the needed education. Don’t forget to document participation, provide the trainees written proof, and complete all activities by July 1, 2014.

To make training your employees a breeze, take advantage of Seton CA’s WHMIS video training kit. This complete package consists of materials you need to teach your staff about Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) such as:

  • a 35-minute educational video in DVD
  • printed supplementary materials
  • five self-study guides with quizzes
  • a WHMIS poster
  • five wallet cards
  • five certificates
  • an administrator’s guide

Approved by the Industrial Accident Prevention Association and Liftow, these learning materials cover:

  • WHMIS basics
  • workplace hazards
  • hazard symbols
  • material safety data sheets
  • controlled products
  • training requirements and responsibilities

With Seton CA’s WHMIS video training kit, you’re one quick and easy step away from complying with Ontario’s regulations and cultivating a safe and healthy working environment!

Are Your Workers Ready for the New GHS Standards?

GHS Label

The United States and 65 other countries are transitioning to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), and Canada will soon follow. This means an update to laws related to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), including the Hazardous Products Act and Controlled Products Regulations.

Health Canada will make the necessary changes to the WHMIS-related laws, which will be published this year in Canada Gazette Part II, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). The exact timeline will for enforcement hasn’t been announced yet, but it could begin as early as 2015, while the jurisdictional updates are expected to be completed by June 2016.

Use Seton CA’s safety training DVDs to educate your staff on the new GHS standards. Three separate products are available in the GHS Regulatory Compliance DVD series, including Introduction to GHS, Safety Data Sheets, and Container Labels. The DVDs can be used by individuals or in a classroom setting and each includes tools such as attendance forms, quizzes and certificates. Get ready for GHS now, so your employees will understand the new labels before they encounter them.



The Different WHMIS Chemical Classifications

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada’s national workplace hazard communication standard. This legislation applies to all workers involved in manufacturing, or work with or are in proximity to controlled substances or products in their place of work. The WHMIS is a comprehensive plan that provides information on the safe use of hazardous materials. These safety information are delivered to the involved personnel by means of:

  • Cautionary labels found on the containers of controlled products
  • Providing material safety data sheets (MSDS) for each controlled product; and
  • Educating workers and providing site-specific training programs on hazardous substances

Exposure to hazardous substances can cause or contribute to various serious health issues such as dizziness, lung or kidney damage, cancer, sterility, burns, and rashes. Some hazardous materials are also safety hazards, and can cause fire or explosions. WHMIS was established to help prevent injuries, illnesses, deaths, medical costs, and fires caused by hazardous products. The end goal is to create a safer workplace by making sure you and your workers are knowledgeable about these hazards and have the proper tools to work safely.

WHMIS has established eight different classes to identify chemical hazards. Each class has a corresponding symbol for identification:

whmis_a (1)Class A (Compressed Gas)

Compressed gas is any gas placed under constant pressure or chilled, contained by a cylinder. A sudden release of high pressure can be deadly; it can puncture the skin and cause fatal embolism. Heat exposure can also cause it to explode. Leaking cylinders are also a danger because the gas that comes out may cause frostbite. Compressed gas includes carbon dioxide, oxygen, compressed air, ethylene, and welding gases. The hazard symbol is an image of a cylinder surrounded by a circle.

whmis_bClass B (Flammable and Combustible Material)

Any material that will burn, explode, or catch fire easily at normal temperature (below 37.8 °F) are considered flammable. Combustible materials must be heated first before they will ignite while reactive flammable materials are those that suddenly start burning when it touches air or water. Materials under this class can be solid, liquid or gas such as acetone, turpentine, ethanol, propane, butane, kerosene, spray paints, and varnish. The symbol for this is a flame with a line under it inside a circle.

whmis_cClass C (Oxidizing Material)

Oxygen is necessary for combustion. Oxidizers do not burn but can cause other materials that normally do not burn to suddenly catch fire by providing oxygen. They can be in the form of gases such as oxygen and ozone, liquids such as nitric acids and perchloric acid solutions, or solids such as sodium chlorite. The symbol for oxidizing materials is an “o” with flames on top of it inside a circle.

whmis_d1Class D – Division 1 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Immediate Serious Toxic Effects)

Materials under this division are very poisonous and can cause immediate death or serious injury if inhaled, digested, absorbed, or injected into the body. Most Class D-1 materials will also cause long term effects. Some examples of D-1 materials include sodium cyanide, carbon monoxide, sulphuric acid, acrylonitrile, and 4-diisocyanate (TDI). The symbol is a skull and crossbones inside a circle.

whmis_d2Class D – Division 2 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Other Toxic Effects)

These are poisonous materials as well but their effects are not as quick-acting and only temporary. Those that don’t have immediate effects may still have serious results such as cancer, liver or kidney damage, birth defects, or reproductive problems. Some of these materials include asbestos, mercury, benzene, acetone, and cadmium. The symbol for Class D-2 looks like a “T” with an exclamation point at the bottom inside a circle.

whmis_d3Class D – Division 3 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Biohazardous Infectious Material)

These are toxins or organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, that can cause diseases in people or animal. Biohazardous infectious materials are usually found in hospitals, laboratories, healthcare facilities, veterinary practices, and research facilities. Any person handling specimens or samples in these environments should assume that they are contaminated and should treat them accordingly. Examples of these materials include Hepatitis B, AIDS/HIV virus, and salmonella. A Class D-3 symbol looks like three “c”s joined together with a small circle in the middle, all inside a circle.

whmis_eClass E (Corrosive Material)

Corrosive materials, such as acids and bases will burn eyes and skin on contact. It can also cause irreversible damage to human tissue such as the eye or lung. It will also attack clothes and other materials like metal. Common corrosive materials include sulphuric and nitric acids, ammonium hydroxide, and caustic soda. The symbol for Class E is an image of two test tubes pouring liquid on a bar and a hand inside a circle.

whmis_fClass F (Dangerously Reactive Material)

Materials under this class  are unstable, and may burn, explode or produce dangerous gases when mixed with incompatible materials. A Class F material manifests three different properties or abilities:

  1. It can react very strongly and quickly with water to make toxic gas;
  2. It will react with itself when it gets shocked, or if the temperature or pressure increase; and
  3. It can undergo polymerization, decomposition, or condensation.

Examples of this class include vinyl chloride, ethyl acetate, ethylene oxide, and picric acid. The symbol for this class is a picture of a test tube with sparks coming out of the tube surrounded by a letter “R” inside a circle.

A safe environment is important for everyone, and knowing how to properly handle hazardous materials in your facility is one way to achieve that. A thorough WHMIS education coupled with a strong PPE training program will help you in achieving a safe and efficient workplace.


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