Health Canada, OSHA agreement to align hazardous communication standards

Two groups will establish GHS working group to reduce systematic barriers

An agreement to collaborate on implementing the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling — along with any future developments of the GHS — has been signed between the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB) of Health Canada and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States.

Under the agreement, HECSB and OSHA will establish a working group to reduce systematic barriers between the systems responsible for occupational safety and health of workplace chemicals. They will collaborate to reach common positions for the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on GHS about proposed updates to the system.

HECSB and OSHA are participating in the U.S.-Canada High Level Regulatory Coordination Council, which was created by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011 to increase regulatory transparency and co-ordination between the two countries. The goal of the council is to improve regulatory co-operation and adopt compatible approaches to promote economic growth, job creation and benefits to consumers and businesses through increased regulatory transparency and co-ordination.

In Canada, legislation requires the adoption of the GHS by June 2015. Occupational health and safety legislation requires employers to train their workplaces on the GHS by June 2016.

In the U.S., OSHA aligned its hazard communication standard with the GHS in March All employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must conduct new training for workers on the new label elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding by December 2013.

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