Canada Revises Hazardous Products Regulations

Categories: Government Affairs

By Bill Balek | February 23, 2023 << Back to Articles

On January 4, 2023, the Department of Health in Canada published a final rule that significantly revises the nation’s Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) to more closely align with the 7th edition of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The HPR is Canada’s federal regulation that sets forth the classification, labeling, and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements for hazardous products, including cleaning products, intended to be used, handled, or stored in workplaces in Canada. The current HPR is based on the fifth revised edition of the GHS. 

Transition to Revised HPR.  The revisions to the HPR provide for a 3-year transition period, ending on Dec. 14, 2025.  During the 3-year transition period, regulated companies can choose to comply with either the former HPR or the latest revisions to the HPR, but not a combination of both. The hazard classification and safety data sheet (and label, if applicable) of a hazardous product must be fully compliant with the version of the regulation chosen. You should be ready to demonstrate which version of the HPR your product complies with upon request.  However, starting December 14th, 2025, Canadian chemical manufacturers of affected products and others exporting covered products to Canada will need to comply with the revised HPR.

Background.  On February 11, 2015, the HPR was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The HPR revised and amended the previous Hazardous Products Act substantially, as it introduced the GHS concepts into the regulatory framework. In addition, it modified the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), which had not been updated since it first became law in 1988. The new system is referred to as WHMIS 2015. At the time of publication, the HPR was based on Rev 5 GHS. The UN updates and revises the GHS model on a bi-annual basis, and at this time, the most current version is Rev 9, with the expectation that Rev 10 will be published in 2023. Canada’s update aligns the HPR with Rev 7, adds specific physical hazard elements from Rev 8, and includes other points of clarification and revision.

Revisions to the HPR.  Highlights of the major changes to the HPR include the following:

  • Changing the name of the current “flammable aerosols” hazard class to simply “aerosols,” and adoption of a new hazard category (Category 3) for non-flammable aerosols
  • Clarifications on approaches to classification for Aerosols versus Gases Under Pressure
  • Adoption of a new physical hazard class, Chemicals Under Pressure, from the 8th revised edition of the GHS to align with the United States proposed changes to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updates to the current Hazard Communication Standard (OSHA HCS 2012)
  • Updates and amendments to terminology to align with Rev 7. This includes updates to several health and physical hazard class definitions
  • Revisions to Section 9 Physical and chemical properties content of the SDS
  • Changes to Section 14 Transport information the SDS.

Physical Hazards. The largest impact to the changes to HPR Subparts are within the physical hazard classes. Certain changes are specific to the alignment with Rev 7 and Rev 8. These include significant, but necessary changes to Flammable Gases, Aerosols, and the inclusion of Chemicals Under Pressure. The revisions include the incorporation of pyrophoric gases into the Flammable Gases Subpart. Currently, pyrophoric gases are addressed in a separate HPR Subpart, as this physical hazard was not part of Rev 5 but was added to the UN GHS model in a later revision. In addition, the intention originally to include pyrophoric gases as a separate Subpart helped to align the HPR with the additional labeling elements OSHA included in HCS 2012. The revisions to the Flammable Aerosols Subpart to rename to Aerosols and add non-flammable aerosols is necessary to align with Rev 7. As noted, the addition of Rev 8 Chemicals Under Pressure is to align with the proposed changes to OSHA HCS 2012.

Health Hazards.  The changes to terminology have a broader impact, and include amendments to several health hazard classes, acute toxicity, skin corrosion/irritation, serious eye damage/irritation, respiratory and skin sensitization, and reproductive toxicity. In addition, new definitions are noted for germ cell mutagenicity and carcinogenicity.

SDS Revisions.  The changes to the SDS in Schedule I of the HPR are specific to Section 9 and Section 14 and are meant to address those noted in Rev 7. The revisions to Section 14 remove paragraph 14(f) completely from the Section. Paragraph 14(f) currently is “transport in bulk (according to Annex II of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code)).” Health Canada revises Section 9 as noted in the table below.

Current Section 9

Revised Section 9

(a) Appearance, such as physical state and colour;

(b) Odour;

(c) Odour threshold;

(d) pH;

(e) Melting point and freezing point;

(f) Initial boiling point and boiling range;

(g) Flash point;

(h) Evaporation rate;

(i) Flammability, in the case of solids and gases;

(j) Upper and lower flammability or explosive limits;

(k) Vapour pressure;

(l) Vapour density;

(m) Relative density;

(n) Solubility;

(o) Partition coefficient — n-octanol/water;

(p) Auto-ignition temperature;

(q) Decomposition temperature; and

(r) Viscosity

(a) Physical state;

(b) Colour;

(c) Odour;

(d) Melting point and freezing point;

(e) Boiling point or initial boiling point and boiling range;

(f) Flammability;

(g) Lower and upper explosion limit or lower and upper flammability limit;

(h) Flash point;

(i) Auto-ignition temperature;

(j) Decomposition temperature;

(k) pH;

(l) Kinematic viscosity;

(m) Solubility;

(n) Partition coefficient — n-octanol/water (logarithmic value);

(o) Vapour pressure;

(p) Density and relative density;

(q) Relative vapour density; and

(r) Particle characteristics

Comments.  It is interesting to note that Health Canada has issued its revisions to the HPR prior to OSHA finalizing its anticipated amendments to OSHA HCS 2012.  According to the fall 2022 Regulatory Agenda, released on January 4, 2023, OSHA intends to publish its final rule in March 2023. OSHA had implied it was close to completing the final rule but has yet to publish it in the Federal Register.  If OSHA adheres to its announced schedule, it is highly unlikely the timing of its implementation will be synchronized with that of the revised Canadian HPR because of the inherent differences in the two nations’ respective regulatory processes.

Additional Information.  A detailed summary of the revised HPR is available by clicking here.  A copy of the Canada Gazette notice announcing the revised HPR is located here

About the Author.

ISSA Director of Legislative Affairs Bill Balek has more than 25 years of experience working with various legislative and regulatory organizations that create rules that have a direct impact on the cleaning products industry, including antimicrobial pesticide registration, hazardous material transportation, safety and health regulations, and general environmental laws.