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Federal government announces changes to WHMIS Legislation

The federal government has announced certain amendments to the federal Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation which covers suppliers of hazardous chemicals in Canada. The purpose of the amendments is to align with the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS is being adopted by countries around the world and provides a consistent international system for chemical classification and labelling.

While the amendments came into force February 11, 2015, there will be a transition period during which suppliers can comply with either the old WHMIS system (WHMIS 1988) or the new WHMIS system (WHMIS 2015).

Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code, 2009 (OHS Code), Part 29 contains the applicable WHMIS requirements for employers and workers in Alberta and is in the process of being amended to align with the federal legislation and the GHS. It is anticipated that there will also be a transition period during which Alberta employers can comply with either or both WHMIS systems.

Further information about these changes can be found on the Work Safe Alberta website or the Health Canada website.

Federal government announces changes to WHMIS Legislation

Voluntary Global Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Coming Soon

In August, the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”), the world’s largest global developer of voluntary international standards, approved the creation of a project committee who will develop an international standard for occupational health and safety management systems (“OHSMS”).

The ISO states that the OHSMS standard is intended to provide governmental agencies, industry and other organizations with an effective, usable guidance for improving worker safety around the world.  One of the primary objectives of the new global standard is to create an international framework for OH&S best practices and help prevent and reduce work-related injuries, diseases, and deaths worldwide.

While the global standard will not be mandatory in Canada unless expressly adopted into Canadian law, the OHSMS standard may assist employers who opt to implement it in demonstrating that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and could be of assistance where an employer is seeking to make out a due diligence defence.

The first meeting of the project committee is scheduled to be held from October 21-25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom. Stay tuned.

By Lindsay Mullen  and Jennifer Shepherd


Voluntary Global Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Coming Soon