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New Amendment to Canada's Controlled Products Regulations Change WHMIS Classification Protocols

Health Canada has issued a short but significant update to the Controlled Product Regulations (CPR). These regulations, under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), comprise the federal framework for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, or WHMIS, in Canada.

The amendment, numbered SOR/2010-38, and published on February 23, 2010, addresses two issues. One was a minor correction of terms used in the French version of subsection 12(3). However, other changes are of particular significance to those who use or create material safety data sheets (MSDSs).

In subsection 12(11) of the CPR, the regulation indicated originally that the supplier must disclose any hazard information of which the supplier "is aware or ought to be aware". It was determined that the HPA did not actually have the authority to determine what exactly the supplier should be expected to be aware of. Therefore, 12(11) was changed to require the disclosure of "all additional hazard information that is available to the supplier with respect to the controlled product or, if appropriate, a product, material or substance that has similar properties, including any evidence based on established scientific principles."

Further, in subsection 33(1), the original text states that the supplier should use "evaluation and scientific judgment based on test results...." This section will now require the supplier to make classification decisions based on "established scientific principles".

The next subsection, 33(2) has been extensively revised, with the term "aware or ought to be aware" being removed. Instead, the section now lists evidence that may be used for classification, such as:

  1. results of other testing with respect to the product, material or substance;
  2. if appropriate, a product, material or substance that has similar properties; and
  3. other evidence based on studies, epidemiological data with respect to
    1. the product, material or substance, or
    2. if appropriate, a product, material or substance that has similar properties.

Finally, section 64, which deals with classification of infectious substances, has been changed.  While the original regulation defined an infectious substance (Division D3) as "an organism that has been shown to cause disease or reasonably believed to cause disease," the definition has been amended to "an organism that has been shown to cause disease or to be a probable cause of disease".

It has yet to be seen how these changes may affect enforcement of the CPR. Clearly, it will become even more important for suppliers to keep records of what information they "have available", when creating MSDSs or classifying their products.

For more information on this amendment, or the Controlled Product Regulations, please contact ICC Compliance Center at 1-888-977-4834, or check our website. An online copy of the amendment may be found at: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2010/2010-03-17/html/sor-dors38-eng.html.

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