WHMIS 1988 - Classification of Controlled Products


A product which falls within any of the hazard criteria set out in Part IV of the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) is a WHMIS "controlled product". A controlled product may be a "pure" substance, a tested mixture or an untested mixture. Unless it is exempt under Section 12 of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), it is subject to the MSDS and labelling requirements of the HPA.

To determine if a product is included in one or more WHMIS classes, the supplier must use the procedures set out in Section 33 of the CPR. The Reference Manual provides guidance on the use of structure-activity relationships, sufficiency of evidence, weight of evidence and classification of mixtures. The use of professional judgement in the classification of WHMIS controlled products is also available in Appendix A of the Reference Manual.

Section 19 of the CPR describes the information that must be disclosed on a WHMIS supplier label, including the hazard symbol(s) which must be depicted on the label as a consequence of the classification of the product. The classification can also provide guidance as to what information should be disclosed on the MSDS and label and what information should be communicated to workers through education and training.

There is no legal requirement to disclose the WHMIS classification on the MSDS or label. If it is company policy to disclose such information, then all of the WHMIS classifications into which the product falls must be disclosed. For Classes B and D, if it is company policy to disclose the division and subdivision(s), all of the applicable subclassifications must be disclosed.

Testing Requirements

WHMIS was designed to make the best use of existing data. There is no legal requirement in the HPA or CPR to test materials to determine their WHMIS classification. However, a supplier/importer may need to conduct testing to meet the MSDS ingredient disclosure requirements stipulated in Section 13 of the HPA if this information is not known.

Professional Judgement

A product must be classified in order to determine if it is a WHMIS controlled product and therefore subject to WHMIS requirements. In classifying a product, all of the criteria listed in Part IV of the CPR must be considered. The extent to which professional judgement is used by the classifier will depend on the specific criteria being considered. The criteria and the approach that should be taken are discussed in Appendix A of the Reference Manual.

Referenced Tests & Lists

Internationally recognized lists, tests and standards have been referenced throughout the CPR. When no results are available from these referenced tests or methods, results from tests or methods that have been derived from these listed tests and other relevant but non-specified tests are also acceptable. For toxicological tests, the testing must have been carried out in accordance with generally accepted standards of good scientific practice at the time the test was completed.

Hazard Criteria

An alphabetical listing of hazard criteria and their applicable sections of the CPR are listed below.

Physical Hazard Endpoints for a Product, Material or Substance
Endpoint CPR Section
combustible liquids 38
compressed gases 34
corrosion 65
flammable aerosols 40
flammable gases 36
flammable liquids 37
flammable reactive 41
flammable solids 39
oxidizing 42
Toxicological Hazards Endpoints
Endpoint CPR Section
Pure Substance /
Tested Mixture
Untested Mixture
acute toxicity 46, 47, 49 48 and 51
biohazardous infectious 64 64
carcinogenicity 54 58
chronic toxicity 52, 59 58, 63
corrosion 65 65(f)
embryo toxicity 53 58
irritation, skin or eye 60 63
mutagenicity 57, 62 58, 63
reproductive toxicity 55 58
sensitization, respiratory tract 56 58
sensitization, skin 61 63
teratogenicity 53 58

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