Ontario seeking feedback on proposed changes to OHSA, WHMIS regulation

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is proposing to amend selected provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation, as a part of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). 
WHMIS is a Canada-wide system to ensure employers and workers have consistent health and safety information about hazardous workplace chemicals, provided through labels, material safety data sheets and worker training. It has been in place across Canada since 1988 and is implemented through complementary federal and provincial/territorial legislation.

A number of jurisdictions are already in the process of implementing the GHS, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea.

In Canada, the federal government has taken steps to implement the GHS. On June 19, it passed amendments to the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) to harmonize existing WHMIS requirements with GHS standards. On August 9, it published proposed new Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR), in Canada Gazette, Part I, to replace the existing Controlled Products Regulations. The final HPR are expected to be published in Canada Gazette, Part II in late 2014. All provinces and territories must amend their WHMIS requirements to reflect the changes to federal WHMIS legislation and regulations. In Ontario, this means that administrative and technical amendments to both the OHSA and WHMIS Regulation are required.

At this time, the MOL is consulting on proposed amendments to the OHSA and WHMIS Regulation, based on the amended HPA and proposed, new HPR. MOL's proposed amendments may change to reflect the final HPR but these changes are not expected to be significant.

The public is invited to provide written comments until Dec. 19.

The MOL is proposing that new requirements would come into force on June 1, 2015. Consistent with the approach of the federal government, it is anticipated that Ontario's proposed amendments would provide for a lengthy transition period — until June 2017 — for full implementation of the GHS.