Employer's obligation to keep supplier material safety data sheets (MSDSs) up to date (no more than 3 years old) - 985-1-IPG-050

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

Effective Date: January 2009 (revised)

1. Purpose

Interpretation of subsections 10.32(2) and (3) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety (COHS) Regulations stipulating that:

  1. Where there is a controlled product in the work place and the supplier material safety data sheet (MSDS) in respect of the controlled product is three years old or more, the employer shall, where possible, obtain from the supplier an up-to-date supplier material safety data sheet.
  2. Where it is not practicable for an employer to obtain an up-to-date material safety data sheet, the employer shall update the hazard information on the most recent supplier material safety data sheet that the employer has received on the basis of the ingredients disclosed on that supplier material safety data sheet.

2. Interpretation

The Controlled Products Regulations , at present, require the supplier to provide updated MSDSs only if the controlled products were sold after the new information became available. It is desirable but not mandatory for suppliers to provide updated MSDSs for products sold previously. However, the employer must attempt to obtain an updated MSDS from the supplier, subsection 10.32(2) of COHS Regulations or if impossible, update the most recent supplier MSDS , subsection 10.32(3).

3. Questions and Answers

  1. What are the employer's responsibilities if the supplier forwards an updated MSDS ?

    Upon receiving an updated supplier MSDS for a controlled product, the employer must compare the information contained in this sheet with the old one. The employer can then determine whether he must, in light of the information received, revise the employee education program required under paragraphs 10.14(3)(b) and (c) of the COHS Regulations. The employer shall then replace the outdated sheet with the updated one.

  2. If no changes have been made to the MSDS and the supplier so notifies the employer in writing, may the latter use the information to update the supplier MSDS ?

    If the supplier gives the employer written notice that the MSDS for the controlled product previously bought has been reviewed, indicating the date of the review and confirming that no changes have been made, the employer may change the date of preparation on the most recent supplier MSDS and thereby comply with the requirements of subsections 10.32(2) or 10.32(3) of the COHS Regulations. However, the employer must either attach the supplier's letter to the supplier MSDS or indicate on the revised MSDS that the letter is available, on request, for consultation purposes.

  3. What happens if the supplier fails to respond to a request for information concerning the MSDS or is no longer in business?

    Where information cannot be obtained from the supplier to update the MSDS , then the employer must comply with subsection 10.32(3) of the COHS Regulations by updating the information concerning the hazards of the product on the most recent supplier MSDS , on the basis of the ingredients listed on the sheet. The employer can then determine whether he must, in light of the information found, revise the employee education program required under paragraphs l0.l4(3)(b) and (c) of the COHS Regulations. The employer is under the same obligation where the supplier is no longer in business.

It should be kept in mind that these provisions apply only when the employer does not make a new purchase of the controlled product. As soon as the employer makes a new order, he must obtain an updated MSDS from the supplier: the latter is obliged to provide this under the Controlled Products Regulations.

Note: In circumstances where the employer prepares a work place MSDS or a machine readable version of the MSDS , pursuant to subsections 10.33(2) or 10.34(2) of the COHS Regulations, he should update the MSDS according to the new information appearing on the supplier MSDS .

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

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