WHMIS: machine-readable version of supplier Material Safety Data Sheets - 985-1-IPG-037

Note: Pursuant to the Interpretation Act, in the following text, words importing male persons include female persons.

Effective Date: January 2009 (revised)

1. Purpose

Provision of subsection 10.34(2) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety (COHS) Regulations allowing an employer to make a machine-readable version of supplier material safety data sheets available to the employees and the work place committee or health and safety representative by means of a computer terminal, if the employer complies with paragraphs 10.34(2)(a), (b) and (c) of the regulations.

2. Points of Issue

It is necessary to clarify whether the employer who prepares a machine-readable version of supplier material safety data sheets and makes the information available to the employees by means of computer terminals must also keep a hard copy of the data sheets on file at each work place or whether the employer can simply keep the data sheets in a central location even if it is at a different address.

3. Questions and Answers

  1. Must an employer, who takes advantage of subsection 10.34(2) of the COHS Regulations and prepares a machine-readable version of the supplier material safety data sheets and makes them available to the employees and the work place committee or health and safety representative by means of a computer terminal, also keep a hard copy of the data sheets readily available at the work place at all times, or does the computer terminal fulfill this function?

    An employer who takes advantage of subsection 10.34(2) of the regulations and whom meets the conditions set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) is not required to keep a print-out of the data sheets at each work place. Naturally at least one printer must be available at that work place in order to provide a hard copy of the machine-readable data sheet at the request of an employee, the work place committee, the health and safety representative [10.34(2)(c)] or in emergencies.

  2. What happens to the original of the supplier data sheet?

    A copy of the supplier data sheet must be available for examination upon request by an employee, the work place committee or the health and safety representative in a delay not exceeding 48 hours. Where the employer's work place is limited to one building, the supplier data sheet must be retained and available for examination at that location. For the employer who has branches in different locations throughout Canada, he may keep the original of the supplier data sheets at a central location in Canada.

Fulvio Fracassi
Director General
Program Development and Guidance Directorate
HRSDC-Labour Program

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