Health Canada and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have announced that they will “continue their partnership” to “align United States and Canadian regulatory approaches regarding labelling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals through the Regulatory Cooperation Council.”

In 2013, Health Canada and OSHA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling (GHS) in both countries. Countries around the world are adopting GHS, which provides a consistent international system for chemical classification and labelling.

OSHA and Health Canada say that they intend to reduce inconsistencies among hazard communication regulations and to provide concise information to protect workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. The two countries intend to implement a system allowing the use of one label and one safety data sheet that would be compliant in both countries.

In February 2015, the Government of Canada published in the Canada Gazette, Part II the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) which modified the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988 to incorporate GHS.

While those amendments came into force February 11, 2015, there will be a transition period during which suppliers and employers can comply with either the old WHMIS system (WHMIS 1988) or the new WHMIS system (WHMIS 2015) (the transition period rules and periods differ for employers and suppliers).

For further information on the transition, in Canada, to WHMIS 2015, click here.