WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System was developed in response to the workers’ right to know about the potential hazards with any chemical substance they use at work. It has been 25 years since WHMIS came on the scene. It was a Canadian creation that has served our needs greatly so far.
All over the world different countries had similar systems in place, but with the advent of globalization, a universal system would be ideal.
In a global effort to ensure safe use, transport, and disposal of dangerous chemicals, an internationally harmonized approach to classification and labeling was proposed.
The result was the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) system that covers all hazardous chemicals.
You could view GHS as WHMIS all grown up and ready to tackle on the rest of the world.
One benefit of GHS is enhanced health and environmental protection through clarity and consistency in information provided to people who may be exposed to chemicals. GHS is designed to provide clear, consistent label messages to chemical handlers and users, emergency first responders, and the public. Signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements will have the same meaning in all settings, domestically and internationally.
Another very important benefit of GHS implementation is that it willreduce barriers to trade and facilitate compliance by eliminating the need to comply with multiple hazard classification and communication systems. Companies will only have to classify once for all authorities that implement GHS worldwide. This will reduce the need for testing and evaluation for multiple classification systems, domestically and internationally.
Some countries have already accepted and adopted the GHS system and suppliers are shipping products labeled under this new system.
Countries that have already implemented GHS include Germany, Iceland, Hungary, Greece, France, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom…etc…
Does this Mean GHS Training will have to be done?
Yes, and in the near future this will become a priority for employers here in Canada.
So, what does GHS bring that is new to Canada?
With the implementation of GHS, there will be:
- additional pictograms that will appear on labels
- the SDS (formerly MSDS) will include sixteen(16) sections as opposed to the current nine (9) in Canada
- additional guidance will be provided on classifying pure chemicals and mixtures according to its criteria or rules, and communication of the hazards and precautionary information using improved Safety Data Sheets.
When does this all happen and where can I obtain training?
There have been dates that have been proposed, and they have come and gone.
On July 5th, 2013, the Minister of Health announced that Canada is launching a consultation that begins the process of applying the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) for workplace chemicals in Canada.
Health Canada and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which allows OSHA and Health Canada to collaborate on implementing the GHS in their respective jurisdictions, as well as any future developments of the GHS.
Following this consultation, the Department intends to publish a formal regulatory proposal in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for broader public comment.
So, look for final implementation to take place probably around 2015-2016.
At OSG, we apply the highest compliance standards to our training. When legislation has been passed, the GHS will be added to the current WHMIS training we offer. At that time, the changes will include adopting all of the major GHS health and physical hazard classes including aspiration hazard and specific target organ toxicity-single exposure. The coursewill feature the new more specific names for its hazard classes that will be required for the 16 section MSDS headings.
Our current WHMIS training is available in our classroom, your site, or online. Please contact us for more information.