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Archived - Government of Canada Passes New Regulations to Enhance the Level of Protection for Workers Handling Hazardous Materials in the Workplace

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Regulatory changes deliver on key Regulatory Cooperation Council initiative

February 11, 2015 - Ottawa - Health Canada

Today, the Government of Canada finalized new regulations related to the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) for workplace hazardous chemicals.

Chemicals used in Canadian workplaces are produced and sold around the world. Employers and workers rely on the labels and material safety data sheets (SDSs) packaged with these chemicals to know how to handle them safely. The purpose of the GHS is to apply a system of classification for workplace chemicals and safety information requirements that is globally accepted. It is meant to replace or reduce the differences for hazard classification and communication that exist in countries around the world. A key objective of the GHS is to create a system that will allow Canadian and U.S. requirements to be met through the use of a single label and SDS for each hazardous product.

The GHS strengthens the level of protection already in place for workers in Canada, facilitates trade with the United States (U.S.) and other international partners, and enhances the competitiveness of Canadian suppliers of workplace chemicals.

The implementation of the GHS delivers on a key initiative announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama as part of the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council's Joint Action Plan.

In Canada, occupational health and safety is a shared responsibility between the federal government, the provinces and territories. Following the changes finalized by the Government of Canada today, a transition period has been established to allow the provinces and territories to adapt their own regulations and to allow for industry to make necessary system changes and train workers.

Please visit the Health Canada website for more information on the implementation of the GHS in Canada, including information on the transition period.

Quick Facts

  • The adoption of the GHS provides Canadian industry and workers an international standard and consistency for classification and communication of workplace hazards. This is expected to provide health and safety benefits for Canadian workers.
  • The implementation of the GHS in Canada is expected to provide a net benefit for Canadians of nearly $400 million in increased productivity and decreased health and safety costs over the next 20 years.
  • Canadian industry is expected to start seeing yearly net benefits of $82 million within four years. The benefits associated with imports and exports, including not having to reclassify and prepare different labels and SDSs, are expected to be seen even earlier because of advanced implementation in other countries.
  • The United States, European Union, Australia, Japan, China and South Korea are among the other jurisdictions that have either adopted, or are in the process of adopting, the GHS.

Quotes

"Today, the Government of Canada is providing additional protection to Canadians who use hazardous materials in the workplace. The implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Labelling for Workplace Hazardous Chemicals also delivers on an important Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council commitment. By aligning our classification and labelling requirements for hazardous workplace chemicals, we are protecting the health and safety of the Canadian workforce, while enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian industry."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"The new GHS system for labelling of chemicals in the workplace announced today is probably the most significant affirmation to date of the importance of regulatory cooperation between Canada and the United States in terms of both the positive economic impact and the enhancements to worker safety. The federal government is to be applauded for its leadership on this important initiative."
Gary LeRoux
President and CEO, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association

"Canadian Consumer Specialty Products member companies are committed to an integrated North American marketplace for workplace chemicals. Supporting this new modern regulatory framework will realize the goal set out in the RCC Action Plan and bring consistent and accurate information on products to workers. The harmonized GHS between Canada and the U.S. will enhance competitiveness in North America and we are pleased that this initiative is moving forward."
Shannon Coombs
President, Canadian Consumer Specialty Products (CCSPA)

Related Products

Fact Sheet - The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

Associated Links

The Regulatory Cooperation Council

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Contacts

Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Health Canada
Media Relations
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