Part 6 – Division 3
Overview: Regulatory Cooperation Council Initiative on Work Place Chemicals
A series of initiatives under the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan were announced in 2011, one of which was an initiative to implement the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) allowing Canada to “align and synchronize implementation of common classification and labelling requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals.”
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a standardized, internationally consistent approach to classifying chemicals according to their physical, health and environmental hazards. Implementation of the GHS worldwide would facilitate international trade and enhance workplace safety by providing workers with standardized and consistent information on chemical hazards.
Legislative changes are required to implement the GHS and fulfill the Regulatory Cooperation Council commitment to align and synchronize workplace chemicals regulatory regimes in Canada and the U.S.
The initiative amends three pieces of legislation: 1) the Hazardous Products Act (HPA); 2) Part II of the Canada Labour Code; and 3) the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. To achieve alignment with the U.S., it is proposed that the following amendments be made to the HPA: (i) changes to definitions and terminology; (ii) technical changes to regulatory authorities as they relate to classification criteria and hazard communication; and (iii) changes related to compliance and enforcement under the Hazardous Products Act.
In order to allow for the potential of additional future alignment with the U.S., the amendments propose moving eight sectors that are currently excluded from the HPA, but included in the U.S. workplace health and safety regime, from the body of the HPA to a Schedule to the Act. These eight sectors will continue to remain excluded from the scope of the HPA. However, it is proposed that the Governor in Council be provided with the authority to bring these sectors under the HPA in the future. In order for these sectors to be brought under the HPA, a full consultation with affected stakeholders would need to occur, including a cost-benefit analysis and pre-publication in the Canada Gazette.
Related to compliance and enforcement, the amendments propose several changes such as: 1) updating inspection authorities, including adding the ability to take photographs and remove samples free of charge; 2) requiring the preparation and maintenance of documents related to hazardous products; 3) including authorities for ministerial orders for tests, studies or information; 4) including ministerial orders to take corrective measures; and 5) updating the penalties related to offences. The compliance and enforcement provisions would also be updated to align with similar and more recent federal legislation (e.g., the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act).
In addition, the initiative contains amendments that would provide clarity in the current Act with regard to prohibitions for workplace asbestos products. To resolve this issue, it is proposed that the prohibitions and restrictions related to workplace asbestos products that were previously established under the HPA be re-established in the HPA.
The proposed amendments include a transitional coming into force to allow suppliers time to transition to the new system.
Finally, consequential amendments are proposed to Part II of the Canada Labour Code and to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act to adjust definitions and terminology, as well as to make coordinating amendments.