Differences between U.S. OSHA and Canadian HPR WHMIS Regulations

May 21, 2019

Differences Between US OSHA and Canadian HPR WHMIS Regulations

Who Regulates Hazardous Products in Canada? 

In Canada, hazardous products are regulated by Canada’s Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR), and Canada’s national hazard communication standard, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). These regulations are enforced through provincial or territorial government departments responsible for health and safety, or the federal labor program for federally regulated workplaces.

Who Regulates Hazardous Products in the United States?

Health and safety legislation in the United States is regulated by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). In the USA, hazardous products are regulated by OSHA and its Hazard Communication Standard or HazCom 2012. Individual States can have their own programs but these must exceed federal OSHA Standards.

Similarities Between OSHA & WHMIS

Canada and the USA have transitioned fully and incorporated the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Both require a consistent system for classifying chemical hazards, a consistent format for safety data sheets (SDSs), and standardized labels that use pictograms to depict hazards, specific wording to inform workers of hazards, and information on how to protect against those hazards.

SDSs & Labels a Key Difference Between WHMIS 2015 and HazCom 2012 

Canadian SDSs and Labels include the following requirements:  

  • Register confidential business information according to the Canadian Hazardous Materials Information Act.
  • The need for bilingual (English / French) labels and SDSs.
  • Requirement to update SDS and labels when suppliers become aware of “significant new data”.
  • A Canadian supplier identifier on labels and SDSs.
  • The inclusion of the biohazardous infectious materials hazard class from WHMIS 1988.
  • Label elements including pictograms for “Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified” and “Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified.”

In Canada, they have divided OSHA’s Hazards Not Otherwise Classified category and divided it into health hazards and physical hazards. Due to variances in labelling requirements, in Canada you are required to list information on HNOCs on the label and select the appropriate pictogram to represent the hazard.

Is It Possible For A Company To Have One SDS & Label To Meet The Requirements Of Both Countries’ Standards?

Health Canada and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have worked collaboratively to keep the variances between the two countries to a minimum. It is now possible to meet both Canadian and U.S. requirements using a single label and SDS for each hazardous product.

Learn More About the Differences Between HazCom 2012 & WHMIS 2015 

Chemscape has put together a resource with a comparison chart between HazCom 2012 and WHMIS 2015. This guidance document may help companies involved in cross-border trade to identify products that may have different SDS or labelling requirements under WHMIS 2015 or HazCom 2012. 

Download Hazcom 2012 vs WHMIS 2015 Guide