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What You Need To Know About WHMIS Labels

Canada has recently aligned its harmful substances labeling system with GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals). Health Canada has worked to produce 2015's Hazardous Products Regulations amending previous regulations regarding labels used with dangerous substances in the workplace. While occupational regulations may include specifications required by different territories and provinces, federal guidelines are in effect. Here's what you should know about using WHMIS labels.

Changing from CPR to HPR
All hazardous products sold or imported into Canada must bear these labels. A transition period is allowed for adopting the new Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System labels. Vendors may still follow the 1988 Controlled Products Regulations guidelines, but as of June 1, 2017 must follow one or the other in entirety, as any combination of the two sets of regulations is not acceptable. Everyone must be in compliance with the 2015 regulations by December 1, 2018.

Who Must Use WHMIS labels?
This applies to any products at use in the workplace that meet criteria for classification as hazardous. All containers must be labeled. These labels are intended to be a first alert to uses about the potential hazards involved with the use of the product, as well as stating recommended safety steps or other precautions minimizing any risks. The supplier is typically responsible for labelling all hazardous products before they are provided to clients. But the client or employer is responsible for ensuring that these labels are in place when receiving them or affixing their own suitable warning labels when necessary.

The only exceptions are bulk shipments without packaging, or containers too small for affixing proper labels.

Workplace labels
According to the guidelines, the employer must label containers when:

* A hazardous product or combination of products is created in the workplace
* The original product is poured or decanted into other containers
* The supplier label is missing or unreadable.

The only time that a WHMIS workplace label is not required is when the original product is decanted into another container for immediate use, is under the sole control of the person who decanted it, and any remainder is returned to the original container. Any product that is used by multiple persons or stored in a new container must bear a workplace label.

What information should be on a WHMIS label?
Suppliers must provide labels in both English and French, as two separate labels or combined into one label. There is no fixed format or color for the labels, but each one must include:

1. Product identifier (brand, chemical, generic, or trade name)
2. Supplier identifier (name, address, and contact number of Canadian manufacturer or importer)
3. A pictogram with the hazard symbol set on a red square.
4. Signal word ("Toxic", "Hazardous", "Danger", etc.)
5. Statement describing the type of hazard posed by the product
6. Precautionary statement outlining safety measures.
7. Supplementary information - for instance the content of harmful ingredients (15% sulfuric acid), warnings on mixing with other substances, or additional safety procedures.

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