Why Worry About GHS Now?
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is important to the safety of anyone working with chemicals. WHMIS and its associated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are Canada’s national hazard communication standard. Since 1988 WHMIS has helped Canadians working with hazardous chemicals to quickly know about the safety and health hazards that may be associated with the materials or chemicals they use at work. Having this knowledge is a worker’s right.
But soon WHMIS will change. In 2003 the United Nations adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals or GHS. (See the full official text here.) This is a standardized system for all international trade of hazardous chemicals. GHS legislation has passed in Canada and will be known as WHMIS 2015, and until the official implementation WHMIS will be in a period of transition.
December 1, 2018 will mark the official start of Canada’s transition from WHMIS to GHS, as well as the implementation of the related Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). The completion of this transition will be in June 2019. By this date, Canadian suppliers will have to produce GHS labels and SDSs. View a GHS Implementation Timeline in Canada for an overview (provided by Chemscape Safety Technologies Inc.).
It is easy to feel that having over three years until the Canadian implementation of GHS means there is lots of time to prepare – but this is not the case. If you want to keep your workers safe you need to start training and educating them now. One of Canada’s largest trading partners is the United States and their transition to GHS is already well underway; all training had to be completed by December 1, 2013. By June 2015 the transition will be complete in the United States and all American suppliers and workplaces will only have GHS-compliant labels and SDSs. After June 2015, the products supplied by the United States will not come with WHMIS labels and MSDSs.
Training legislation for GHS in Canada will be determined at the provincial level, and has yet to be set, but it is a worker’s right to have the knowledge they need to stay safe. If your workers are interacting with hazardous chemicals in any way, it is important that they are trained to understand GHS as soon as possible to be fully prepared for the increase in SDSs, especially from American suppliers.
Through our partner, Chemscape Safety Technologies Inc. , we are providing you with an affordable, effective, and entertaining course that covers the essential elements of both WHMIS and GHS from the worker’s perspective:Safety in Transition: Moving from WHMIS to GHS. This course will help workers prepare for the transition, refresh their WHMIS understanding, and build upon their previous knowledge to help easily relate GHS to WHMIS.