Workplace safety

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.

Hazardous materials

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:

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:

  • SDSs
  • labels

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

Hazardous materials

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:

  • employees
  • service personnel
  • the general public

Promoting and enforcing compliance

Health Canada promotes and enforces compliance for hazardous material in the workplace.

Hazardous materials

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:

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
  • prosecute

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.

Hazardous materials

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:

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