Complying with Canada’s New Chemical Classification and Labeling Regulations
Canada is updating its existing Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) system to comply with an international effort to standardize chemical classification and labeling. The new system goes into full force effective December 1st.
What is GHS?
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly referred to as GHS, was developed by the United Nations to standardize chemical classifications and labeling to make their hazards more easily understood around the world.
GHS has two major components to it:
- Classification of hazards — Hazards must be grouped, classified, and categorized.
- Communicating the hazards — Safety data sheets and labels communicate hazards and provide precautionary information.
What is WHMIS?
A series of chemical accidents in the 1970s prompted Canada’s WHMIS legislation, which was implemented in 1988 and later updated in 2015 to align with GHS.
GHS Compliance Deadlines in Canada
Canada’s transition from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 / GHS started in 2015:
- Phase 1 — Ended May 31, 2018. During this phase, manufacturers and importers and distributors could use either the old 1988 WHMIS rules or the new GHS rules under WHMIS 2015. Employers were advised to consult with regulators.
- Phase 2 — June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018. Manufacturers and importers must now comply with the new GHS rules. Distributors and employers can use either set of rules.
- Phase 3 — September 1 to November 30, 2018. Distributors must comply while employers may continue using either set of rules.
- Completion — December 1, 2018. Employers must comply with the new GHS rules.
Canada GHS Labeling Requirements — Label Contents
Any product used in the workplace that is classified as a hazardous product must also be labeled. Though the label requirements may vary depending on each jurisdiction, the following elements are common:
- Bilingual text — Either one label containing English and French text or two labels, one with English text and another with French text.
- Product identifier — The product’s name.
- Initial supplier identifier — Canadian manufacturer or importer’s name, address, and phone number.
- Hazard pictogram — A standardized red hazard symbol.
- Signal words — “Danger” for high risk hazards; “Warning” for lower risk hazards.
- Hazard statements — Standardized statements describing the hazard.
- Precautionary statements — Standardized statements describing precautions to take.
- Supplemental label information — Depending on the product’s classification, additional information may be required.
Canada GHS Labeling Requirements — Label Durability
GHS labels must be extremely durable so that they remain affixed to the product and legible for the long-term — even when exposed to saltwater, chemicals, oil, or UV light. GHS requires compliance with the gold standard for measuring label durability — British Standard 5609 (BS5609).
BS5609-certified labels have been tested by Smithers Pira to meet the standard’s requirements from adhesive performance, print permanence, and scratch resistance. Each BS5609-certified label is certified for use with a specific GHS label printer and inks. Thus, you must use BS5609 media certified for use with your specific GHS label printer.
How to Comply with GHS in Canada
Here’s what you need to print your own GHS labels in Canada:
- Label design software — Several applications, such as NiceLabel or BarTender, include all the standardized statements, pictograms, symbols, and components required by WHMIS 2015. You can also download a free WHMIS 2015 pictogram kit from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
- GHS label printer — Industrial label printers certified for GHS label production. See the list below for recommendations.
- GHS BS5609-certified blank labels — Choose GHS labels certified specifically for your printer and its inks/toners. All Chemical labels manufactured by DuraFast Label Company are GHS BS5609 certified.
Recommended GHS Label Printers in Canada
There are several options available including pigment-based and LED laser GHS label printers:
- Epson TM-C7500 GHS (pigment ink) — The Epson TM-C7500 Matte GHS is one of the best GHS label printers available. This high speed, full color GHS-compliant label printer is ideal for medium-to-high volume production environments — $9,443.25 CAD.
- Epson TM-C3500 GHS (pigment ink) — An economical choice, this Epson ColorWorks C3500 GHS label printer is a versatile, entry-level choice — $2025 CAD.
- Epson GP-C831 GHS (pigment ink) — For larger labels like chemical drum labels or fertilizer bag labels, the Epson GP-C831 color label printer is the way to go as it prints labels as large as 8” x 22” — $2288.25 CAD.
- iSys Edge 850 GHS (LED laser) — For high volume environments, the iSys Edge 850 digital label press prints 8.5-inch GHS labels at a speed of 30 feet per minute — $23,495 CAD.
- iSys Apex 1290 (LED laser) — For even larger chemical labels, consider the iSys Apex 1290 digital label press. It accepts media as wide as 12.9 inches — $53,995.
For some Canadian businesses, an entry-level GHS printer will do just fine for years to come. For those with high volume needs, it’s probably better to invest in one of the digital label presses.