Learn how Health Canada helps protect your health and safety in the workplace.
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Regulating workplace safety
Health Canada contributes to occupational health and safety by coordinating the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and monitoring workplace radiation exposure.
WHMIS is a national hazard communication standard. The key elements of the system are hazard classification, cautionary labelling of containers, the provision of (material) safety data sheets and worker education, and training programs. WHMIS protects Canadian workers from the dangers of improper use, storage and handling of hazardous products, and is implemented through coordinated federal, provincial and territorial legislation.
Under the Hazardous Products Act, suppliers of hazardous products must:
- label hazardous products
- provide a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to the person receiving the product
The Hazardous Materials Information Review Act allows confidential business information to not be listed on the label or SDS under certain conditions.
We also process requests to protect confidential business information. This information is otherwise required to be disclosed under the laws of the provincial and territorial occupational health and safety agencies, and under the Labour Program.
The Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, under the Canada Labour Code, protect workers from radiation in federal workplaces by ensuring that they:
- are not exposed to high levels of radon
- receive education and training to ensure the safe storage, handling and use of products, including:
- radiation-emitting devices
- radioactive materials in the workplace
We provide guidance regarding exposure of workers to radon through:
- existing guidelines
- guidelines for management of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials
We also support the monitoring of workplace radiation exposure through the:
Protecting confidential business information
Confidential business information is required to be disclosed on a label or SDS for a hazardous product. When Health Canada receives an application to protect confidential business information, we issue a Registry Number. This number identifies the submission and must be placed by the suppliers on:
For each application, we follow a registration procedure to verify that:
- the information has an economic value
- the information on the SDS is complete and accurate
- the application is protecting information that is truly confidential
Creating policies and setting standards
Health Canada administers workplace safety acts and develops standards for the use of radiation-emitting devices and radioactive materials in the workplace
We administer the workplace safety acts (Hazardous Products Act and Hazardous Materials Information Review Act) and regulations by providing information on these acts and developing:
- changes to the regulations
- technical policies and guidance
- compliance and enforcement policies and standards
This work helps to meet our commitments under the Regulatory Cooperation Council to maintain our alignment with U.S chemical labelling standards.
We also develop guidance documents, policies and standards on safe storage, handling and use of radiation-emitting devices and radioactive materials in the workplace. These help reduce risks to:
- service personnel
- the general public
Promoting and enforcing compliance
Health Canada promotes and enforces compliance for hazardous material in the workplace.
We promote compliance by sharing the Technical Guidance on the WHMIS 2015 requirements upon request. We provide specific and generalized guidance on the regulations through:
- a list of frequently asked questions
- the WHMIS inquiries email account
Enforcement officers explain to suppliers what they need to do to comply with the HPA. If an officer finds a product that is not compliant, we can:
- work with the supplier to bring the affected product into compliance
- seize products
- issue ministerial orders for corrective measures or testing
If non-compliance with the legal requirements of Hazardous Materials Information Review Act is identified, the screening officer will issue orders for corrective measures to the applicant.
Collaborating with partners
Health Canada collaborates with several partners for hazardous material and radiation in the workplace.
WHMIS 2015 incorporates the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling for Chemicals (GHS) for workplaces. By using GHS labelling in Canada, we can be consistent in how we identify dangers in the workplace with our partners in the:
- U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Agency
- United Nations Sub-Committee on the GHS
We also help develop federal WHMIS policies with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders through sharing ideas, advice and information.
To identify issues and develop the guidelines and standards related to radiation safety in the workplace, we work with:
- Employment and Social Development Canada
- provincial and territorial partners
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