Notice of public hearing for proposed OHSR amendments relating to WHMIS 2015

February 13, 2015

Dear Stakeholder:

The Board of Directors approved an expedited public hearing to be held on Friday, February 20, 2015, to consider proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) relating to harmonizing Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

WHMIS, Canada’s national hazard communication system, has been in place since 1988.

These are the key elements of the WHMIS system:

  • Hazard identification and product classification
  • Cautionary labelling of controlled products
  • Provision of material safety data sheets
  • Worker education and training programs

The GHS will not replace WHMIS. The existing WHMIS requirements will align with the GHS elements and will be called WHMIS 2015.

The GHS is an internationally agreed-upon hazardous materials classification system, created by the United Nations. It is designed to replace the various classification and labelling standards used in different countries by using consistent criteria for classification and labelling on a global level. Before the GHS was created and implemented by the United Nations, there were many different regulations on hazard classification in use in different countries, resulting in inconsistent standards, classification, and labels for the same hazard in different countries. Given the extent of international trade in chemicals, it was determined that a worldwide approach was necessary. Canada has committed to implementing the GHS within the context of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

The Province of British Columbia, along with other provinces and territories, has committed to working towards amending the WHMIS sections in the OHSR by June 1, 2015.

The information about the public hearing and the proposed amendments with explanatory notes can be accessed via the WorkSafeBC website or the link below:

Public Hearing Information and the Proposed Amendments

The public hearing provides stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on the proposed regulatory amendments. WorkSafeBC welcomes your feedback on the proposals, either through written submissions or participation at the oral public hearing. All feedback received will be presented to the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC for their consideration. Written submissions will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 20, 2015.


G. John Panusa, LL.M.

Barrister & Solicitor

Director, OHS Regulation, Policy & Governance