Employer Requirement to keep supplier safety data sheets (SDS) up to date (three years) - 985-1-IPG-050

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Effective date: September 2017

1. Purpose

To provide clarity on federally regulated employers’ obligation to maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) up to date.

2. Issue

The Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) require suppliers to provide updated SDS only if new information becomes available, and only for controlled products sold after 90 days of that new information becoming available. It is desirable but not mandatory for suppliers to provide updated SDS for products sold prior to that timeframe. However, in work places that are subject to the Canada Labour Code, the SDS must be reviewed and updated at least every 3 years. The employer must attempt to obtain an updated SDS from the supplier [subsection 10.32(2) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR)] or if not practicable, update the most recent supplier SDS [COHSR subsection 10.32(3)].

3. Questions and Answers

Question 1. What are the employers’ responsibilities related to obtaining and retaining supplier SDS for hazardous products under the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) 2015 and amended COHSR?

Answer 1. When a hazardous product is received in the work place the employer must, without delay, obtain a supplier SDS unless the employer already has an SDS for the same product and from the same supplier. The employer may only use an existing supplier SDS if it discloses information that is current at the time the product was received and is dated less than 3 years from the date the hazardous product was received. If a supplier SDS for a hazardous product found in the work place is 3 years old or more, the employer shall if practicable, obtain a current SDS from the supplier.

Question 2.  What does the employer do if unable to obtain an updated and current SDS from the supplier?

Answer 2. If it is not possible for an employer to obtain a current SDS, the employer shall update the hazard information on the most recent SDS received, on the basis of the ingredients disclosed on that SDS and any significant new data of which the employer is aware.

“Significant new data” is a term used in the HPR. It means “new data regarding the hazard presented by a hazardous product that change its classification in a category or subcategory of a hazard class, or result in its classification in another hazard class, or change the methods to protect against the hazard presented by the hazardous product.” It has the same meaning in the COHSR.

Question 3. What are the employer's responsibilities if the supplier forwards an updated SDS?

Answer 3. Upon receiving an updated supplier SDS for a hazardous product, the employer must compare the information contained in the new SDS with the old SDS. Based on this information the required employee hazard prevention training should be reviewed and revised if necessary. The employer shall then replace the outdated SDS with the updated one.

Question 4. If no changes have been made to the SDS and the supplier so notifies the employer in writing, can the employer use the information to update the supplier SDS in order to meet the requirement to have a data sheet that is less than 3 years old?

Answer 4. Yes. If the supplier gives the employer written notice that the SDS for the hazardous product previously purchased 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 SDS [paragraph 10.32(1)(c) or subsections 10.32(2) and 10.32(3) of the COHSR]. However, the employer must either attach the supplier's letter to the supplier SDS or indicate on the revised SDS that the letter is available for consultation, upon request.

Question 5. What happens if the supplier fails to respond to a request for information concerning the SDS or is no longer in business?

Answer 5. If it is not possible for an employer to obtain a current SDS, the employer shall update the hazard information on the most recent SDS that the employer has received, on the basis of the ingredients disclosed on that SDS and any significant new data of which the employer is aware. Based on this analysis the employer can then determine whether the hazard prevention program and training requires revision.

In all circumstances where the employer prepares a work place SDS or an electronic version of the supplier SDS, the employer must update the SDS according to the new information appearing on the supplier SDS and any significant new data.

4. Conclusion

The WHMIS 2015 changes to the HPR will have a unique effect on federally regulated employers. Although producing new SDS every three years will no longer be a requirement of the HPR, federally regulated employers must still try to obtain them. Attempts to obtain them should be recorded.

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