New GHS regulations finalized

The federal government has finalized new regulations related to the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) for workplace hazardous materials.
The purpose of the GHS is to apply a system of classification for workplace chemicals and safety information requirements that is globally accepted. It is meant to replace or reduce the differences for hazard classification and communication that exist in countries around the world, said the government.

A key objective is to create a system that will allow Canadian and United States requirements to be met through the use of a single label and safety data sheet (SDS) for each hazardous product.

"The implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Labelling for Workplace Hazardous Chemicals also delivers on an important Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council commitment. By aligning our classification and labelling requirements for hazardous workplace chemicals, we are protecting the health and safety of the Canadian workforce, while enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian industry,” said Rona Ambrose, minister of health.

The implementation of the GHS in Canada is expected to provide a net benefit for Canadians of nearly $400 million in increased productivity and decreased health and safety costs over the next 20 years. Canadian industry is expected to start seeing yearly net benefits of $82 million within four years, said the government.

The benefits associated with imports and exports, including not having to reclassify and prepare different labels and SDSs, are expected to be seen even earlier because of advanced implementation in other countries.

The U.S., European Union, Australia, Japan, China and South Korea are among the other jurisdictions that have either adopted, or are in the process of adopting, the GHS.

There is a transition period to allow the provinces and territories to adapt their own regulations and to allow for industry to make necessary system changes and train workers.