Canada Adopts the GHS of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

Canada Adopts the GHS of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

Intertek Canada explains what it means for Canadian chemical companies.

More and more countries are adopting the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), a system that aims to protect human health and the environment during the handling, transport and use of chemicals at a global level. It provides harmonized classification criteria and hazard communication elements for chemicals.

Canada has moved towards adopting the GHS, along with the U.S., within the new Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) published by the Government of Canada on February 11, 2015. The HPR allows for GHS to be incorporated into the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), now known as WHMIS 2015.

What’s different?

Under the HPR, classification for chemicals is more structured in comparison to the previous Controlled Products Regulations (CPR), where all available data for the substance and considerations for the type of data used for a mixture (and its ingredients), must be evaluated against the classification criteria for each hazard class. Overall, new GHS health and physical hazard classes must be used to classify the substance or mixture.

As hazard classes have been adopted from the GHS, each hazard class requires specific labelling elements, which have also been included in the HPR. Labels of hazardous chemicals will require the appropriate GHS pictogram signal word, hazard statements and precautionary statements. The product identifier (i.e. chemical name, trade name etc.) used in the SDS, supplier contact information and supplemental label elements, where applicable, must also be included on the label.

The transition period for the new HPR requirements began on February 11, 2015, where manufacturers, importers and distributors may comply with either the previous CPR requirements or the new HPR requirements. As of June 1, 2017, manufacturers and importers must comply with the HPR requirements whereas distributors will have until June 1, 2018 to comply with the HPR, which will become fully implemented in Canada on December 1, 2018 and employers of workplaces that handle hazardous chemicals must also meet the changes after this date.

Adopting the GHS in Canada should improve the consistency in classification and hazard communication of chemicals at a global level, facilitating trade for Canadian businesses exporting to countries like the U.S., as well as China, Taiwan, Japan and New Zealand, which have also adopted the GHS. Like the U.S., Europe is currently going through a transition period which ends on June 1, 2015.

Canadian chemical companies should be aware of the upcoming changes occurring not only in Canada, but in the U.S., Europe and other countries that are implementing the GHS.

Intertek Canada provides testing, inspection, certification, auditing and technical training to Canadian and global clients. Intertek will be hosting a free webinar on “GHS Implementation in Canada: HPR & WHMIS 2015” on March 12, 2015 at 10 AM EST, which will cover the new HPR requirements for hazardous chemicals in the workplace, with a comparison to the US HazCom 2012 requirements. Visit

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