GHS in Canada

On February 11th, 2015, the Canadian government announced the implementation of Global Harmonized System (GHS), standardizing classifications and hazards related to chemicals in the workplace.

What NOW?

KMK Regulatory Services offers expert understanding of GHS legislation and GHS compliance services for Canada (WHMIS 2015) to ease transition for your material safety data sheets (SDS) and labels.

KMK Regulatory Services can help your company prepare immediately for the upcoming impacts of GHS in Canada (WHMIS 2015). We’ve designed a simple and effective transition plan to ease the burden of the process. We can create a detailed GHS conversion plan and assist with the classification of substances for GHS, as well as revise all of your material safety data sheets and labels.

Complete information regarding the implementation of GHS in Canada is available in the Canada Gazette Part II, dated Feb. 11th, 2015.


  1. Identify and communicate the impact of GHS to management and stakeholders
  • What impact will the GHS regulations have on your business?
  • What impact does GHS have on your current process?
  • Will GHS change current classifications on our products?
  • Will labels need to be redesigned to include new GHS pictograms?
  • How will this affect our shipping costs?
  1. KMK will help companies build a step by step plan to begin converting all regulated documents, so the impact is incremental. Depending on requirements, a transition period may be required to help your company achieve GHS compliance. It is recommended to begin the process now.
  1. KMK will aid in maintaining compliance consistency and never worry again about the high cost of non-compliance with our long-term compliance program.


During the initial phase, suppliers must comply with the requirements of either WHMIS 1988 (repealed CPR/old HPA) or WHMIS 2015 (HPR/new HPA). The classification, label and (M)SDS must comply fully with the specific law and regulation chosen, and not a combination of the two WHMIS systems.
Only one WHMIS version (either 1988 or 2015) can be appear on the SDS, not both simultaneously.

GHS Compliance in Canada (WHMIS 2015)

As per Health Canada requirements:
An (M)SDS and label that is compliant with the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard(2012) may not be sufficient for compliance in Canada. Suppliers and employers must be compliant with the Canadian requirements.

In order to remain at the same level of safety that was included in the previous WHMIS 1988 (CPR) regulations, Canada has decided to differentiate itself from the United States’ HCS 2012 regulations on several key elements. Here is a partial list of items that need to appear on the SDS:

  1. Canadian specific Address
  2. HNOCs split in two
  3. Trade secret different than the US
  4. Canada has an extra pictogram
  5. Certain hazards are different
  6. Language is important
  7. Inventory lists
  8. OELs etc.

KMK has many options to lower your cost of compliance, including product grouping, Multi-country documents (all of NA on a single Master SDS)….

Important steps to GHS Compliance (WHMIS 2015)

  1. Re-evaluation of how substances and mixtures are classified under GHS.
  2. Updating and re-issuing of all regulated documents, such as SDS, and labels,
    • KMK will provide the expert process as well as a dedicated project manager to guarantee the success of every mandate.
  1. Training staff on new GHS classifications and symbols.
    • It is the employers responsibility to ensure all employees are trained on the new classifications, hazards and pictograms. Please see the time table below.
    • KMK has released e-learning packages in mid 2015.

Why is GHS necessary?

GHS promises to deliver several distinct benefits. Among them are:

  • Promoting regulatory efficiency.
  • Facilitating trade.
  • Easing compliance.
  • Reducing costs.
  • Providing improved, consistent hazard information.
  • Encouraging the safe transport, handling and use of chemicals.
  • Promoting better emergency response to chemical incidents.
  • Reducing the need for animal testing.

The two major elements of GHS are:

  1. Classification of the hazards of chemicals according to the GHS rules:
    • GHS provides guidance on classifying pure chemicals and mixtures according to its criteria or rules.
  2. Communication of the hazards and precautionary information using Safety Data Sheets and labels:

LABELS – With the GHS system, certain information will appear on the label. For example, the chemical identity may be required. Standardized hazard statements, signal words and symbols will appear on the label according to the classification of that chemical or mixture.

SAFETY DATA SHEETS (SDS) – The GHS SDS has 16 sections in a set order, and minimum information is prescribed



PhasesTimingManufacturers, Suppliers  & ImportersDistributorsEmployers
Phase 1From February 11, 2015 to May 31, 2017WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015Comply to both regulations
Trade Secret (CBI)From February 11, 2015 to May 31, 2016WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Phase 2From June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018Comply to WHMIS 2015WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015Comply to both regulations
Trade Secret (CBI)From June 1, 2016 to November 30, 2017Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Phase 3From June 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to both regulations
Trade Secret (CBI)December 1, 2017 – OnwardComply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015
CompletionDecember 1, 2018Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015Comply to WHMIS 2015

NOTE: Different timeline for trade secrets (one year earlier than the phases)

KMK will send out comprehensive summaries to educate and assist companies’ transition to GHS (WHMIS 2015). For more information contact us by completing the information form or by phone at

Or ask us for a free GHS introduction Webinar.