As an employer with hazardous products in our workplace when do I need to check my SDSs under WHMIS 2015 now that the 3-year rule is gone?
WHMIS 2015 is in full effect Dec. 1, 2018, and with the 3-year expiration rule changing on SDSs, it is causing some confusion if workplaces need to keep reviewing their SDS inventory on a regular basis.
Going forward, suppliers should be continuously reviewing and updating their SDSs if changes to the product occur. They have a duty to communicate this to customers with the most current SDS for the hazardous product. This change is supposed to improve upon the 3-year rule.
What may prompt a change in an SDS? A new chemical composition in the manufacturing of a product can introduce new hazards. Recent health studies could reveal increased hazards of a substance. Transportation and OHS regulations continuously change prompting SDS revisions for some products. Adoption of new GHS revision standards (i.e. USA is currently at Rev.4 and adoption Rev.7 in Feb 2019) can introduce new classifications.
As an employer, WHMIS requirements are governed under provincial, territorial and federal occupational safety and health laws and regulations. Employers need to ensure SDSs are available to workers, hazardous products are properly labelled, and workers receive education and training on the safe handling, storage and disposal of those hazardous products in the workplace. The disappearance of the 3-year rule does not mean you can let the dust accumulate on your SDS. The intention is that review is a continuous process of assessing the hazards at your worksite.
Depending on your provincial or territorial jurisdiction, some employers have obligations under WHMIS 2015 to ensure SDSs for hazardous products in your workplace are not more than three years old. BC, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are jurisdictions with these workplace expectations for their employers. This means you will need to check if anything significant has changed on the SDS and record that you have done the review.
Chemscape provides this level of service and compliance for employers by checking with manufacturers/suppliers for SDS updates on a 3-year cycle and date mark the SDS in the system.