Health Canada Recommends Decision on WHMIS 2015 Concentration Ranges

MARCH 13, 2018

Health Canada (HC) published a summary of comments received last week from 54 commenters on its proposal to modify the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System 2015 (WHMIS 2015) to allow manufacturers and processors to list chemical components within a mixture as ranges rather than the exact percentages in order to safeguard trade secrets.

HC received comments from 12 industry associations — including ILMA, 37 industry suppliers, one independent researcher, and four labor organizations — and it is now proceeding with a recommendation for a final decision on the proposal. Many industry commenters expressed strong support for the proposal on the basis that it eases the burden to comply with the regulatory requirements while not reducing workers protections. HC did not respond to those comments specifically other than to state “thank you – no additional comment.” HC responded to questions regarding its intention to refund Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims made under the old requirements, asserting that it would announce a decision on that very soon after the proposed amendment is finalized.

In response to an inquiry regarding verification of prescribed concentration ranges made by manufacturers and processors, HC stated that inspectors would review Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels during inspections and they also have the authority to take samples of materials to confirm that information and data is appropriately stated on the SDS.

ILMA was very supportive of HC’s proposal in comments it submitted in November 2017, highlighting some of the challenges presented by key differences between OSHA’s HCS 2012 and HC’s WHMIS 2015 and urging full adoption of the amendment. If fully adopted, the proposal should permit chemical manufacturers, processors, and importers in Canada and the United States to have one SDS, safeguarding trade secrets and ensuring that the health and safety of workers is fully protected.