Supplier hazard communication requirements under WHMIS
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- Enabling acts and their regulations
- Hazard classes
- Safety data sheet
- Excluded sectors
Enabling acts and their regulations
The Hazardous Products Act (HPA) provides Health Canada with the authority to regulate the sale and importation of hazardous products intended for use, handling or storage in Canadian workplaces.
The Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) set out the hazard classification and communication requirements.
The Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA) and its regulations allow certain confidential business information (CBI) to be protected and set out the process for filing a claim for exemption.
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The Guidance on the WHMIS supplier requirements provides information on the requirements of the HPA and the HPR to suppliers of hazardous products destined for Canadian workplaces. This guidance also provides suppliers with information on the HMIRA and its regulations and the mechanism to protect CBI.
Note: The former version of this guidance, the Technical guidance on the requirements of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) - WHMIS 2015 supplier requirements, will remain available until the end of the HPR amendments transition period (December 2025).
Properly classifying a hazardous product is critical to creating a compliant label and safety data sheet (SDS).
The HPR includes 2 types of hazard classes:
- Physical hazard classes: represent hazards related to physical and chemical properties, such as flammability or gases under pressure
- Health hazard classes: represent hazards to human health arising from exposure to a substance, material or mixture, such as acute toxicity or skin sensitization
Safety data sheet
An SDS communicates information about a product through pictures and statements that convey hazards, precautions, and first aid measures, among other elements.
Requirements for SDSs are set out in Part 4 of the HPR. Schedule 1 to the HPR sets out the standard 16-heading SDS format and the content required under the headings.
SDSs must be in both English and French in Canada. This information may appear either on a single bilingual SDS or on 2 separate unilingual documents.
The label on a hazardous product is the worker's first source of information about the hazards of the product. It provides workers with information on safe handling, storage, and use of the product. All hazardous products must be labelled in accordance with the requirements of Part 3 of the HPR.
Supplier labels must be bilingual (English and French), durable and legible without the aid of any devices other than corrective lenses. If the label of a hazardous product is lost, damaged, or no longer readable, the product must be relabelled before it is sold or upon its importation into Canada.
Under certain circumstances suppliers do not have to adhere fully to all HPA and HPR requirements. These exceptions are outlined in Part 5 of the HPR.
Exceptions are optional and suppliers can elect to comply with all requirements of the HPA and HPR.
WHMIS supplier hazard communication requirements do not apply to certain chemical products used in Canadian workplaces.
The excluded sectors are:
- Consumer product as defined in section 2 of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
- Cosmetic, device, drug or food as defined in section 2 of the Food and Drugs Act
- Explosive as defined in section 2 of the Explosives Act
- Hazardous waste, being a hazardous product that is sold for recycling or recovery or is intended for disposal
- Manufactured articles as defined in section 2 of the HPA
- Nuclear substance, within the meaning of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that is radioactive
- Pest control product as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Pest Control Products Act
- Tobacco or tobacco products as defined in section 2 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act
- Wood or product made of wood
As part of Canada's ongoing alignment with the United States, 8 of the sectors excluded from WHMIS (consumer products, cosmetics, drugs, explosives, food, medical devices, pest control products, and wood and products made from wood) are listed in Schedule 1 to the HPA. Any of these 8 sectors could be brought under the HPA requirements through a full regulatory process, which would include a cost-benefit analysis, as well as consultations and pre-publication in the Canada Gazette.
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The other 4 sectors (nuclear substance, hazardous waste, tobacco or tobacco products and manufactured articles) are addressed in section 12 of the HPA.
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