I can remember when people started talking about Globally Harmonized System back in 2012. It was an easy infraction in an environmental audit to find a Material Safety Data Sheet out-of-date. This was because all these sheets had to be less than three years old. And you needed a sheet for every hazardous product you had on-site. The Globally Harmonized System was supposed to be the end of that administrative burden for management. People who used chemicals would no longer be responsible for making sure they had the most up-to-date Material Safety Data Sheet. So, is this the case now that Ontario has adopted the Globally Harmonized System in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015 legislation? Yes, but there are other significant changes that management needs to know.
What’s new with WHMIS?
The user is still responsible for making sure they have the most up-to-date information on hazardous materials. Here’s what you need to know about the new system:
- There are now 32 hazard classes. Before there were only 6! There are three groups: physical, health and environmental although Ontario does not include environmental in the WHMIS 2015 legislation. You will still see environmental hazards if you buy chemicals from other countries.
- Chemicals now have categories. A low number and letter combination indicates a very dangerous chemical. While a high number and letter combination means the chemical may only be an irritant.
- A red diamond surrounds pictograms rather than a black circle. Most of the pictures inside the boarder are the same except there are now symbols for health and environmental hazards. The symbol for toxic has slightly changed from a t with a dot at the bottom to an exclamation mark.
- The red hatched boarder around labels no longer exists.
- Safety Data Sheets replace Material Safety Data Sheets. These new sheets have 16 sections while the old sheets only had 9. The new sections include: hazard identification, handling and storage, exposure controls/personal protection, ecological information, disposal considerations, transport information, and regulatory information.
What do you need to know?
Chemical users are responsible for making sure employees are trained, chemicals have supplier or workplace labels, and safety data sheets are available. The full implementation deadline for WHMIS 2015 is December 31, 2018. If you need any help implementing WHMIS 2015 such as training employees, creating workplace labels or safety data sheets, please let us know and we would be happy to help.