Work Plan: Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (Workplace Hazards)

Regulatory area to be addressed

Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (Workplace Hazards)

Health Canada and the United States (U.S.) Department of Labor will continue to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling (GHS) in their respective jurisdictions.

The objective is to ensure that the requirements in Canada and the U.S. for hazard classification and communication can and will be met now and in the future, to the greatest extent possible, with one label and one safety data sheet that would be acceptable in both countries, without reducing the level of safety or protection to workers.

This work is in line with the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Health Canada and the U.S. Department of Labor.


United States

Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)


Health Canada - Workplace Hazardous Materials Bureau (WHMB)


This work stream includes:

  1. Guidance development to support implementation of the GHS and understanding of interpretation of technical issues and requirements in both Canada and the U.S.;
  2. Coordination of common positions and participation in international discussions on the GHS; and
  3. Maintaining alignment on the GHS implementation.

Canada and the U.S. will continue to prevent and reduce variances, while respecting the legislative and regulatory requirements of each country and without reducing or compromising worker health and safety.

It will include the following ongoing activities under the three initiatives:

  • Guidance
    • Engagement of stakeholders to identify priorities for guidance
    • Coordination, to the greatest extent possible, of Canada and U.S. updates to guidance, including those to align with the publication of revisions to the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS Purple Book)
  • International
    • Establishment of forward plans, where appropriate, to address international issues raised at the UN Sub-committee of Experts on the GHS (UNSCEGHS)
  • Alignment
    • Communication of GHS updates to stakeholders and potential impacts for Canada and the U.S. related to alignment with revisions of the GHS Purple Book
    • Within the existing working group for work place chemicals, identification of desired regulatory amendments as a result of publication of future revisions of the GHS Purple Book
    • Where variances occur between Canada and the U.S. regarding adoptions of future revisions of the GHS Purple Book, communication of impact and, where appropriate, forward plan to stakeholders

Initiative A

Planned initiatives and sub-deliverables
Planned initiatives and sub-deliverables Date
(calendar year)
Develop guidance for stakeholders Issue compliance promotion materials (e.g., joint guidance on label variances and alignment, descriptions of respective regulatory frameworks, use of concentration ranges, as well as other fact sheets) to assist stakeholders with GHS implementation and how to comply with requirements of the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) and the Hazard Communication Standard 2012. 1st Quarter 2017
Issue ad hoc materials to support interpretations on regulatory and technical issues and to increase predictability for stakeholders on issues related to GHS implementation in both countries, as may be necessary. Ongoing:
3rd/4th Quarter 2016
Issue Canadian technical guidance on hazard communication and classification requirements in support of suppliers (manufacturers, importers, distributors) being able to meet the HPR requirements. Summer/Fall 2016
Coordinate common positions and participate in UNSCEGHS Host stakeholder sessions to inform stakeholders of issues prior to the UNSCEGHS international meetings and solicit feedback. June 2016,
November 2016
Convene the working group for workplace chemicals in advance of international meetings to create common positions, where appropriate. June 2016,
November 2016
Provide joint updates to stakeholders on issues that arise from the international discussions. August 2016,
January 2017
Maintain alignment on the implementation of the GHS Convene a two day face-to-face meeting between U.S. OSHA and Health Canada to discuss items from the most recent revisions of the GHS Purple Book for proposed adoption in the Canadian and U.S. regulations. September 2016
Host a joint Canada/ U.S. stakeholder meeting to discuss future updates to the Canadian and U.S. regulations. 1st Quarter 2017

For More Information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the  Canada Gazette and  Consulting with Canadians websites.

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