Written By Radha Curpen, Sharon Singh, Venetia Whiting and Claire Gibson
Key amendments to the federal Hazardous Products Regulations (the Regulations) are now in effect, which, among other things:
- update the Regulations to be in line with the most recent standards under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), leading to decreased costs and trade benefits for suppliers navigating Canadian and U.S. regulatory requirements; and
- improve protections for workers against product hazards handled in the workplace.
The amendments came into effect on December 15, 2022, though the Regulations Amending the Hazardous Products Regulations and the Order Amending Schedule 2 to the Hazardous Products Act (the Order) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on January 4, 2023. The amendments will be phased in through a three-year transition period ending on December 14, 2025.
Background on the Regulations
The Hazardous Products Act and its Regulations require suppliers of hazardous products to communicate the hazards associated with their products via product labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) as a condition of sale and importation for use in a Canadian workplace. The Regulations set out the criteria for classifying product hazardous and for communicating those hazardous on product labels and SDSs.
Amendments Related to Regulatory Alignment
One of the objectives of the work plan for workplace hazardous products under the 2011 Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Forward Plan is to coordinate the adoption of GHS updates between Canada and the United States. The Order amends Schedule 2 of the Regulations, which set out the hazard classes, to align with the seventh revised edition, and certain provisions of the eighth revised edition, of the GHS. The amendments to the Regulations also harmonise product label and SDS requirements for workplace hazardous products. Canadian suppliers can expect to continue to use one label and SDS per product when marketing products in both the United States and Canada, subject to Canada’s specific legal and health and safety frameworks, which include official languages requirements .1 Alignment with U.S. regulatory requirements is critical for encouraging growth in the Canadian market, particularly for small businesses.
Amendments Related to Worker Protection
The amendments to the Regulations introduce changes which will better protect workers by requiring more comprehensive and detailed health and safety information on product labels and SDSs.
- clarify that classification must reflect the most severe hazard category or subcategory applicable to the product;
- require more comprehensive, detailed precautionary statements on labels and SDSs to help protect workers from the hazards identified in certain products;
- adopt new, more detailed hazard categories for non-flammable aerosols and chemicals under pressure and new subcategories for flammable gasses, which will more precisely identify the hazards associated with these for workers; and
- clarify certain provisions to better reflect their original intent, resulting in changes to hazard classification criteria and hazard communication requirements that more clearly communicate health and safety information to workers.
Navigating the Transition Period
The amendments provide a three-year transition period ending on December 14, 2025. Health Canada had initially proposed a two-year consultation process, but expanded the transition period in response to stakeholder comments gathered through the consultation process. The three-year period will give suppliers, employers and workers alike time to adjust to the changes, and will help provincial and territorial governments ensure consistency in occupational health and safety legislation across Canada. Small businesses, which are less likely to be integrated in both Canadian and U.S. markets may face greater compliance challenges, will find the transition period particularly beneficial.
Health Canada has confirmed that it will continue to undertake inspection activities under the Hazardous Products Act during the transition period.
Bennett Jones has extensive knowledge and experience in the hazardous product regulatory space and is well-positioned to help your business address any questions or concerns regarding these regulatory changes during or after the transition period. If you want to learn more about the potential impact of these changes to the Regulations, please contact the authors or a member of our Environmental group.