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WHMIS 2015 is here - Canada's requirements for workplace chemicals will be updated as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is incorporated into WHMIS. A multi-year transition period is in effect where both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 systems may be used.

The WHMIS 2015 legislation is currently in force. "In force" means that suppliers may begin to use and follow the new requirements for labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) for hazardous products sold, distributed, or imported into Canada. However, there is a transition period with various stages.

During the first phase, which started with the coming-into-force of WHMIS 2015 on February 11, 2015, suppliers are able to comply with either the old HPA and CPR (WHMIS 1988) or the new requirements of the HPA and HPR (WHMIS 2015). The first phase of transition will end on May 31, 2017, at which point the transition for manufacturers and importers of hazardous products would be completed (i.e. manufacturers and importers would be required to only sell or import hazardous products with labels and SDSs that are compliant with WHMIS 2015).

During the second phase, which starts on June 1, 2017 and ends on May 31, 2018, suppliers importing for their own use and distributors would be able to continue to sell and/or import hazardous products with labels and (M)SDSs based on either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements.

During the third phase (June 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018), manufacturers, importers, distributors and suppliers importing for their own use are required to sell or import only those hazardous products that are compliant with WHMIS 2015. At this point, transition to WHMIS 2015 is complete for all suppliers.

Ontario proposes to provide for a lengthy transition period - until December 2018 - for full implementation of WHMIS 2015 in workplaces.

Check your jurisdiction (federal, provincial, territorial) for the transition period for full employee training and implementation requirements.

During the transition period, you may receive hazardous products that follow either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements. To ensure worker protection, employers must educate and train workers about WHMIS 2015 as new labels and SDSs appear in their workplaces. During the transition period, employers may continue to have WHMIS 1988 labels and MSDSs in the workplace - if so, they must also continue to educate workers about WHMIS 1988. Employers must review and comply with the WHMIS requirements of their occupational health and safety jurisdiction.

Source: CCOHS