Health Canada SDS audits are conducted to ensure that companies are complying with the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) and the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) for Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in Canada. The HPR sets requirements for the classification, labelling, and SDS of hazardous products sold in Canada.
When checking for compliance with the HPR, Health Canada inspectors may find some of the common deficiencies or causes for non-compliance within each inspection criterion. These criteria are:
If Health Canada identifies any deficiencies during the audit, they will provide the company with a report that outlines the deficiencies and a timeline for correcting them. Failure to correct deficiencies promptly can result in fines, penalties, or legal action. These common observations highlight the importance of ensuring that SDS for hazardous products in the workplace are accurate, up-to-date, accessible, and compliant with the requirements of the HPR. Companies should ensure that their SDS are regularly reviewed and updated, and that workers are trained on how to read and interpret the information provided on the SDS.
Common Observations from Hazardous Product Act (HPA) and Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) Inspections
Section 1 of an SDS — Emergency Phone Number — HPR Schedule 1, Paragraph 1(e)
It is a requirement to include an emergency phone number on Safety Data Sheets (SDS). This phone number is intended to be used by anyone who needs to report an emergency or request information about a hazardous product.
During an inspection for compliance with the HPR, common observations related to emergency phone numbers on SDS may include:
- Missing phone number.
- Inaccurate phone number: The phone number provided on the SDS is incorrect or out of date.
- Incomplete phone number: The phone number provided on the SDS is incomplete or missing necessary information, such as the area code or international dialing code.
- Improper formatting of phone number: The phone number is not formatted correctly, making it difficult to read or dial in an emergency.
- Lack of access to the document: The SDS is not readily accessible to workers who may need the emergency phone number, or the phone number is not posted in a visible location near the hazardous product.
NOTE: It is critical for companies to ensure that the emergency phone number on SDS is accurate, complete, and readily accessible to workers. This ensures that emergency situations are handled quickly and appropriately, minimizing the risk of injury or harm to workers or the environment.
Section 2 of an SDS — Missing or inaccurate pictograms — Schedule 1, Paragraph 2(b)
Under HPR Schedule 1, Paragraph 2(b), it is a requirement that a pictogram be included on the SDS of products classified as hazardous.
If an HPR audit finds that the SDS is missing the required pictogram for a hazard, or if the pictogram that is included is inaccurate, the SDS will not comply with the HPR. The responsible party should take immediate steps to correct the error and update the SDS. This may involve reviewing the product's classification and adding the missing pictogram (if necessary), updating the hazard information and precautions on the SDS, and reissuing the SDS to users.
Section 3 of an SDS — Concentration ranges — Subsection 4.4.1(4) and 4.5(4)
There are specific requirements for disclosing the concentration of hazardous ingredients in products on the SDS. However, there are also situations where the exact concentration of an ingredient may be withheld as confidential business information (CBI).
HPR Subsections 4.4.1(4) and 4.5(4) outline the requirements for indicating that the exact concentration of a hazardous ingredient is being withheld as CBI. Specifically, these subsections state that when the exact concentration of a hazardous ingredient is withheld as confidential, the SDS must include a statement that indicates:
- The concentration of the ingredient is being withheld as confidential business information (CBI).
- The reasons why the concentration is being withheld (e.g., proprietary information, trade secret).
- A general range for the concentration of the ingredient, if possible.
Please note that the decision to withhold the exact concentration of a hazardous ingredient as CBI must be made in accordance with the requirements of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA) and the regulations made under it. These requirements include demonstrating that the information is confidential and that its disclosure could result in harm to the competitive position of the company.
Section 9 of an SDS — Physical and chemical properties — Schedule 1, Paragraph 9
Schedule 1, Paragraph 9 of the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) in Canada requires that SDS for hazardous products include information on their physical and chemical properties. This information is important for ensuring safe handling and storage of the product, as well as for emergency response and spill management.
Section 9 of an SDS — Odors — Schedule 1, Paragraph 9(b)
This requirement is applicable to products that have a distinctive odor that can serve as an early warning of exposure to the hazardous substance.
When a product has a characteristic odor, the SDS must include a brief description of it. The description should be specific enough to allow individuals to recognize the odor and take appropriate measures to protect themselves from exposure.
Section 9 of an SDS — Upper and lower flammability or explosive limits — Schedule 1, Paragraph 9(j)
HPR Schedule 1, Paragraph 9(J) refers to the Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) and Lower Explosive Limit (LEL), which are relevant to the determination of whether a product is classified as flammable. The UEL is the highest concentration at which a gas or vapor in air will burn, while the LEL is the lowest concentration at which a gas or vapor in air will burn.
When the flammable pictogram is provided on an SDS, it is required to include the following information:
- The UEL and LEL values for the product, if known.
- If the UEL and LEL values are not known, a statement to that effect must be included on the SDS.
This information is important for communicating the potential flammability hazards associated with the product, and for helping to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken when handling, storing, and using the product.
Section 10 of an SDS — Stability and reactivity — Schedule 1, Paragraph 10(a)
The SDS must identify the product's potential to react with other substances, such as air, water, or other chemicals. This includes information on:
- The product's potential to undergo hazardous reactions (such as polymerization, decomposition, or violent reactions) when exposed to certain conditions or substances.
- Any known or anticipated reactions that may occur if the product is released into the environment.
- Any specific precautions that should be taken to prevent or minimize reactions, such as avoiding exposure to heat, light, or moisture.
Providing this information on the SDS allows users to understand the potential hazards associated with the product's reactivity and can help inform decisions related to its safe handling, storage, and transportation.
Section 11 of an SDS — Toxicological Information — Schedule 1, Paragraph 11(c)
Under Paragraph 11(c), the SDS must provide information on the product's potential to cause delayed or immediate effects and chronic health effects. This includes:
- The product's potential to cause acute or chronic toxicity in humans.
- The product's potential to cause immediate or delayed effects, such as skin or eye irritation, respiratory irritation, or sensitization.
- Any known or anticipated long-term health effects associated with exposure to the product, such as carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
It is important that the information provided on the SDS is accurate, up-to-date, and in compliance with the HPR to ensure that users have access to reliable and consistent information about the product's health hazards.
SDS Authoring, the ERA way
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- Branch, L.S. (2023, March 16), Consolidated federal laws of Canada, hazardous products regulations. Legislative Services Branch. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/sor-2015-17/20200318/P1TT3xt3.html#h-820068.
April 20, 2023