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Managing hazardous materials is a serious business

Do you have dangerous chemicals in your establishments ? If so, WHMIS-GHS applies to you.

In several companies, the management of hazardous materials is often entrusted to human resources departments; because it is one of the requirements related to occupational health and safety.

However, it is important to make sure that the personnel who use hazardous chemicals in your business are trained by a certified professional and that they understand the precautions to be taken during their use, handling, storage, etc.

To this end you must have on site:

  • Product safety data sheets or material safety data sheets

  • The labels necessary to properly identify the containers

  • Storage areas and ventilated cabinets if necessary

  • Personal protective equipment required according to the products present on site

  • Safety and containment devices in the event of leaks, spills or accidents

  • Etc.

Maybe you already have all of this in place? The catch is that there was an update in 2015 to harmonize workplace hazardous materials identification and management systems globally .

WHMIS and GHS, are they the same?

The GHS or Globally Harmonized System is now implemented and mandatory in Canada and it will simply be called WHMIS-2015 . This update was carried out from 2015 to 2018. It will therefore be necessary to update your equipment and the training given to your staff if this has not already been done.

The main changes:

  • The MSDS are now called SDS for Safety Data Sheet

  • The MSDS, which had 9 categories, will now have 16 headings.

  • The hazards were defined according to 6 categories while the new sheet will include 31 hazard classes.

  • The logos to describe the hazards have changed and the labels will now carry the logo and the mentions of warning and danger, among others.

What is the impact of these changes

Is it important? Yes, first and foremost for the health and safety of your staff, in order to assess the hazards quickly in the event of splash, misuse on a surface in contact with food or spill as well as for your crisis management plan.

The list of chemicals must be kept up to date with quantities and accessible off-site because some fire departments will refuse to enter your establishments in the event of a disaster if they do not know what they are facing and what chemicals are stored in your establishment or buildings.

Remember that the majority of cleaning and sanitizing products are considered hazardous materials under WHMIS 2015-GHS. The same goes for a lot of care and maintenance products equipment, appliances and your building.

One of the very important impacts that should not be underestimated is the fact that your suppliers must provide you with all the up- to-date material and notify you of any changes. To this end, your Supplier Food Safety Assurance Program is an essential tool to properly manage this.

We are able to help you develop, implement or improve your WHMIS-2015 - GHS program so that you are able to meet regulatory compliance requirements and those of your customers (including those stipulated in the GFSI standards). This will better protect your staff and establishments, better manage chemical hazards and allow you to be able to react quickly to limit impacts during incidents.

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