WHMIS 2015: what you should know about it and GHS
The “new” WHMIS 2015 is in the process of being adopted in Canada. The Global Harmonized System (GHS) will end up being folded into this new WHMIS 2015. But before looking at what will happen to the old WHMIS, let’s look at why GHS is a good idea.
GHS and why it’s a good idea.
GHS is a global system developed by an international group of hazard communications experts. What GHS will do is make all of the different systems that are currently used for classifying and labelling chemical products consistent on a global scale. These disparate systems have been extremely expensive for organizations to manage and has caused significant confusion for international workers and the shipping of hazardous products to mention just a couple.
GHS will result in the same rules of classification being applied to hazardous products and the same Safety Data Sheets and labels to be adopted. This is the big advantage when we think about how much product crosses borders each and every day. Finally, it brings WHMIS into closer alignment with current Transportation of Dangerous Goods regs.
Impact of GHS on WHMIS
The “old” WHMIS was established in 1988; but how is our Canadian WHMIS going to change? According to the “Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety” (CCOHS), the roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers have not changed, however, employers must ensure their workforce is educated and trained on WHMIS 2015. Employers must also ensure they are compliant with their applicable WHMIS requirements.
Suppliers will have to ensure labelling and Safety Data Sheets comply with WHMIS 2015 along with the classification of hazardous products.
The Transition Timeline and How to Prepare for WHMIS 2015
Thankfully, the transition is not a cutover but rather has a phased approach to give everyone time to move from the “old” to the “new” WHMIS.
Present to 31 May, 2017: Manufacturers, importers and distributors can user WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015. Employers are not mandated to change yet, but it is an excellent time during this phase to ensure your current WHMIS program is in good shape with regards to compliance and the training of staff.
1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018: Manufacturers and importers must have adopted WHMIS 2015, but distributors can still elect to use either the old or new WHMIS. Employers can also elect to remain with WHMIS 1988 or move to WHMIS 2015.
1 June 2018 to 30 Nov 2018: note, this is only a 6 month period unlike the two previous phases. Manufacturers, importers and distributors must now be fully WHMIS 2015 but employers can still elect to use either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015.
1 December 2018: all parties, including employers must be fully moved over to WHMIS 2015.
The duties of employers have not changed such that education and training for WHMIS must still be maintained within their overall WHMIS program. With the December 1, 2018 deadline in mind, as you are planning your transition, you will likely have material with WHMIS 1988 labelling and SDSs. To that end, ensure your workforce remains WHMIS 1988 trained until such time there is no “old” WHMIS labelled product in-house.
Preparing for WHMIS 2015: In consultation with your joint health and safety committee, understand the changes coming with WHMIS 2015 and what its impact will be to your training processes and material. Each organization will have to decide what the best approach will be for securing training for their staff, means of delivery etc.
Ample background information can be found at these sites:
· Free Introduction to WHMIS 2015 Course - http://www.ccohs.ca/products/courses/whmis_ghs_intro/
This free introduction course is highly suitable to create awareness but it does not provide a certificate of completion of WHMIS 2015. For a formal WHMIS 2015 online course with the certificate of completion, please refer to our WHMIS 2015 course or the combined WHMIS 1988 & 2015 course on our TrainingSource.ca website.
Please call if you have questions or would like to know more about our WHMIS courses.
Author: Ron Lambert, P.Eng, PMP