Hazards in harmony: WHMIS poised for change with GHS adoption - Are we there yet?Written by Mari-Len De Guzman 02 December 2010
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“It’s a little foggy on what GHS in Canada will look like exactly. And a lot of people are under the impression that GHS, to some degree, is going to replace WHMIS when that’s not the case,” Power says.
He adds, however, that Canada has established an interim policy to permit the use of the GHS format in safety data sheets, and many suppliers have already been releasing the 16-part SDS format in recent years.
While suppliers have got a bit of a head start with the GHS preparation, there isn’t a lot employers can do at this time, except start reading up on GHS, Davison says.
The Purple Book is a good place to start to familiarize themselves with the new classifications. “I wouldn’t say they should do any classification work yet, but they could become more familiar with the rules. The rules are a little bit different, but many of the same chemicals will still be captured,” Davison says.
Power, however, cautions employers against being “too proactive” about the GHS preparations. “Until we have a little more information from Health Canada on what their plan is, I would be a little hesitant on making too many changes to be progressive or try to preempt the implementation of this.”
Once the new regulations for GHS are published and the necessary legislations are passed, then the real work begins. Suppliers will have to start producing the new labels and SDS and get them out to their clients, Davison says.
Much of the work for the employers will be in training their workers on the new WHMIS and getting their workplace on track to full GHS implementation. In fact, Davison says, employers will potentially end up incurring the biggest cost during the transition period.
“Employers will have to update their WHMIS training, and obviously, they will also be receiving new MSDS and getting those into the workplace,” she says.
Workers will be expected to learn the new WHMIS, the new hazard classes and understand the symbols and the label formats in safety data sheets.
Davison adds, however, that there will likely be a transition period of up to two years following the release of the new regulation, to allow employers to get their workplace up-to-date with the new WHMIS.
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Published in Hygiene Stories