Bulletin 144 February 2011 Making Our Workplace Safer
- Posted at: December 06, 2021 23:31:40

Canada’s workplaces became safer following the implementation of WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), which became law in 1988. WHMIS gave Canadian workers the “Right to Know” what they are working with, and the “Right to Refuse” to work in unsafe conditions. An MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is a document that contains information on all of the potential hazards of a specific substance in a workplace. It is provided by the supplier or manufacturer of the material. It describes how to work safely with a chemical product from the perspective of health, fire, chemical reactivity and the environment. The MSDS also contains information on general use, storage, handling and emergency procedures regarding the material. This information is much more detailed than found on a product label. It must also describe what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, how to recognize symptoms of overexposure, treatment for personnel and how to manage any accidental spills. In Canada, every material controlled by WHMIS must be supplied with an accompanying MSDS. The product name and supplier on the MSDS must match the material. There are nine categories of information that must be present on an MSDS in Canada. These categories are specified in the Federal government’s Controlled Products Regulations as formulated within the Hazardous Products Act, and include:

1. Product Information: product identifier (name), manufacturer and supplier names, addresses, and emergency phone numbers
2. Hazardous Ingredients
3. Physical Data regarding potential Fire or Explosion
4. Hazard Data
5. Reactivity Data: information on the chemical instability of a product and the substances it may react with
6. Toxicological Properties: health effects
7. Preventive Measures
8. First Aid Measures
9. Preparation Information: who is responsible for the MSDS and the document issue date.

Under WHMIS law, an MSDS for a controlled product must not be more than three years old. If you are still using a product that you bought more than three years ago, you may not have a current MSDS. Contact the manufacturer or supplier to request a more recent version of the MSDS. The three-year time limit does not apply to an MSDS for non-controlled products (i.e. products that are outside the scope of WHMIS criteria). If significant new information becomes available before the three years has elapsed, the supplier is required to update the product label and MSDS. Employers must make sure that all controlled products have an up-to-date MSDS (i.e. less than three years old) when it enters the workplace. All MSDS documents must be readily available to workers who are exposed to the controlled products, as well as the organization’s health and safety committee or representative.

This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.

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