Variation packaging cushioning material, excepted quantity packaging, UN packaging testing, distributor deadlines for WHMIS 2015, Mexico GHS, and compatibility

Welcome back to the Regulatory Helpdesk where we answer your dangerous goods & hazmat questions. We’re here to help you become independent with – and understand the whys and hows – of the regulations.

Variation Packaging (4GV) Cushioning Material

Q. Can I substitute a different cushioning material in a variation box?
A. In general: “No.” When a UN-standardized package is specified. The various regulations (49 CFR, IATA DGR, IMDG Code, and TDGR), or the standards referenced within them, restrict the user to assembling the package according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions are based on the components used in the submitted test/design reports on which the approval is based. 49 CFR §178.601(g)(4)(iv) even goes to the point of specifically requiring the same type of cushioning as was used in the submission.

Excepted Quantity Packaging

Q. Is it always necessary for the shipper to have performance test results on packaging used to ship “excepted quantities”?
A. This depends on the mode or jurisdiction of transport. 49 CFR [§173.4a(f)], IATA DGR (§2.6.6) and IMDG Code (§3.5.3) all require that the shipper ensure that testing has been done and documented. This doesn’t need to be externally certified or approved. TDGR [§1.17.1(3)] does not require specific testing, only that packaging is “… designed, constructed, filled, closed, secured and maintained so that under normal conditions of transport, … there will be no accidental release …that could endanger public safety …” [§1.17.1(1)(a)]. Subsequent shippers would be wise to verify with the original supplier if they are shipping other than by ground within Canada.

UN Packaging Test (Board Grade)

Q. If we changed our current UN boxes to a stronger board grade combination, do we have to re-test our design?
A. Yes. A change in board grade combination in the outer packaging would require the design to be retested, even if it is stronger per 49 CFR §178.601 (4) (ii).

Distributor Deadlines – WHMIS 2015

Q. I am a distributor. When do I have to have stuff done under WHMIS 2015?
A. WHMIS 2015 has essentially the same deadline structure that the US had when converting to OSHA HazCom2012. The Health Canada website has good information on it, so as time allows I would suggest going through it. The web address is As to the timeline, see the snapshot below regarding the old WHMIS regulation called CPR and the new one listed as HPR.
Phase Timing Suppliers Employer*
Manufacturers and Importers Distributors
Phase 1 From February 11, 2015 to May 31, 2018 WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 Consult F/P/T regulator
Phase 2 From June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Phase 3 From September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Completion December 1, 2018 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015
* Consult appropriate FPT OHS regulator to confirm requirements and transition timing.

Mexico GHS

Q. My company will be shipping products to Mexico soon.  They have a deadline of October 9, 2018 for final transition.  As a distributor, do I have the same extension there as I do for Canada?
A. Unfortunately, a lot of what is available for Mexico is in Spanish. From what myself and other specialists at ICC can tell, they did not build in the transition schedule like the US and Canada. They just have the blanket statement of being in effect October 9, 2018. One word of caution, Mexico is on Revision 5 across the board. Canada only adopted Revision 5 label phrases the rest is on Revision 3.  The US is on Revision 3 and will stay there until legislation is pushed through to move to higher version. It is likely that classification AND phrases will be different in Mexico when compared to the US or CA versions of the GHS.


Q. We want to ship a 55-gallon drum of jet fuel via ground. Can we use a lined steel drum?
A. Without the UN number and packing group of your material, this question cannot truly be answered. For each material being shipped by ground in the US, the 49 CFR regulations must be checked – particularly column 8 for packaging of the hazardous materials table and the reference to which it sends you.
Karrie Ishmael

Karrie Ishmael

Karrie started with the company in 1988 and has worked in a variety of capacities including customer service, sales, management, and marketing. In her current role as Regulatory Manager, she manages and supports ICC's efforts in supplying value-added services including training and SDS services to our clients. She is knowledgeable in a variety of regulations. She actively participates in a multitude of associations including DGAC, COSTHA and is the former chair of SCHC’s OSHA Alliance Committee.