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Environmental and Workplace Health

Material Safety Data Sheets

MSDSs - Overview:

Section 13 of theHazardous Products Act (HPA) places a legal requirement on the Canadian supplier of aWHMIS controlled product "intended for use in a work place in Canada" to transmit aMSDS disclosing prescribed information as a condition of sale. Section 14 of theHPA places a legal requirement on the Canadian importer of a controlled product to obtain or prepare aMSDS as a condition of importation. Section 23 of theControlled Products Regulations (CPR) sets out the requirements for an imported controlled product that is to be labelled or repackaged in Canada. The Canadian importer who imports a controlled product in accordance with subsection 23(1) of theCPR must obtain or prepare aMSDS before the controlled product is used or sold in Canada.

A product, material or substance is a controlled product if it falls within any of the hazard criteria specified in Part IV of theCPR. A controlled product may be a "pure" substance, a tested mixture or an untested mixture. Section 33 of theCPR sets out the procedures for a supplier to establish whether or not a substance is a controlled product and does not apply to the determination of the information that must be disclosed on theMSDS.

Although the classification criteria specified in Part IV of theCPR may provide a useful guideline for certainMSDS information, it is section 12 and Schedule I to theCPR which set out what information must be disclosed on aMSDS. Subject to the trade secret provision under theHazardous Materials Information Review Act, paragraph 13(a) of theHPA sets out what ingredients are subject to disclosure on theMSDS and section 4 of theCPR specifies the concentration above which those ingredients must be disclosed.

For information on employer obligations, please refer to the "Employer Requirements" page; (page under construction).

Links to Applicable Acts and Regulations:

Links are provided on the "Publications" page under "Acts and Regulations"

Use of the Internet to TransmitMSDSs:

As section 13 of theHPA requires a positive action by the transmitter to convey the transmitted document to the recipient, making aMSDS available on the Internet without ensuring that the purchaser is able to access this information does not absolve a supplier of the legal requirement to "transmit" aMSDS as a condition of sale. The use of the Internet to transmit anMSDS would be acceptable if the supplier is able to demonstrate the following:

  1. the purchaser has downloaded the complete and correctMSDS, i.e., one that contains all of the required information;

  2. the downloading is done at the time of the sale of the controlled product; and

  3. the downloaded file is readable.

Satisfaction, on the part of the supplier, may be provided through written confirmation, provided to the supplier from the purchaser, specifying that the above conditions have been met.

Special Provisions ("Exemptions"):

The categories of products which are not subject to the supplierMSDS and label requirements of theHPA and specified in section 12 of this Act. Certain exemptions and other allowances forMSDSs for products which are subject to theHPA are set out in theCPR as follows:

Special Provision as it relates to .... section ofCPR
genericMSDSs products with similar composition 7
ingredient disclosure complex mixtures 5
ingredient disclosure concentration cut-off 4
ingredient disclosure concentration ranges 11
ingredient disclosure flavours & fragrances 5.1
laboratory samples quantity, ingredient disclosure 9
laboratory supply house products originating from a "supply house" intended for lab use 10
same product multiple sale of 6(a)
same product subsequent sales of 6(b)
trade secret sale to employer who has filed a claim for 8
trade secret sale by secondary supplier 8.2
trade secret substitute information 26, 27 (andHPA 16)

Language Requirements:

As specified in subsections 24(1) and 24(2) of theCPR, the Canadian supplier must provide aMSDS in the official language or languages requested by the purchaser or, when no preference is stated, in the language used in the course of the business transaction. Suppliers must have preparedMSDSs in both English and French by the time they begin selling the product in Canada. A request for anMSDS in both languages can be met by having information in both languages on a singleMSDS or twoMSDSs, one in English and one in French.


As set out in Section 12 of and Schedule I to theCPR, Canada had adopted a nine headingMSDS requirement. However, as an administrative policy,MSDSs forWHMIS controlled products which use the ILO,ISO, EC,ANSI or GHS 16 heading format are accepted as meeting compliance requirements ofCPR Section 12, provided that all 16 headings are disclosed (in the sequence recommended by these other standards) and that the required content specified under Schedule I, Column III of theCPR is addressed. Under the ILO heading "Regulatory Information", the following statement should appear: "This product has been classified in accordance with the hazard criteria of theControlled Products Regulations and theMSDS contains all the information required by theControlled Products Regulations." All headings and subheadings which appear on theMSDS must be addressed by disclosing the relevant information or by declaring that the information is not available or not applicable, as appropriate.

Testing Requirements:

Neither theHPA nor theCPR impose a legal requirement to test materials for the purpose ofMSDS disclosure. As a fundamental principle, during the development ofWHMIS, all stakeholders agreed that nothing in the hazard criteria, nor any part ofWHMIS, would require additional toxicological testing. Rather,WHMIS was designed to make the best use of existing toxicological data. There is, however, an implicit requirement to conduct testing to respect theMSDS ingredient disclosure requirements stipulated in Section 13 of theHPA if this information is not known to the supplier/importer of aWHMIS controlled product.

Revisions toMSDSs:

As set out in subsection 29(1) of theCPR, information disclosed onMSDSs and labels must be accurate at the time of sale of the controlled product. As set out in subsection 29(2), suppliers are prohibited from supplyingMSDSs that have aMSDS preparation date exceeding three years (3 X 365 days) prior to the sale or importation of a controlled product. Thus, if a supplier has not changed any information on his/herMSDS for three years, he/she must review that information to ensure that it is still accurate and that there is no new available and applicable information that should be disclosed.

If there is new information, it must be disclosed on theMSDS and, if applicable, the label of the product. Whether or not there is new information, theMSDS must be revised so that the date of preparation reflects the date the information was reviewed.

At present, a supplier is not legally obliged to send the updatedMSDS (and label if applicable) to previous customers in the absence of subsequent sales. TheWHMIS Current Issues Committee (CIC) subsequently agreed, however, that suppliers, other than retail outlets, shall notify all customers who had purchased a controlled product in the previous 12 months of any significant new hazard information concerning the controlled product. The method of providing the new information will be at the discretion of the supplier; while the information may be provided by way of aMSDS, it may also be done by letter. (Refer to the "Administration & Consultation" page for theCIC's terms of reference.)

Toxicological Information - Guideline:

The IntergovernmentalWHMIS Coordinating Committee (IWCC) has adopted "Guidelines for the Disclosure of Toxicological Information on a Material Safety Data Sheet"; (Refer to the "Administration & Consultation" page for theIWCC's terms of reference.)

Personal Protective Equipment - Guideline:

IWCC's recommended guidelines: In conjunction with the recommended "Factors to Consider ..." provided below, the IntergovernmentalWHMIS Coordinating Committee (IWCC) has adopted the following as enforcement policy:

  1. Recommend PPE for each applicable route of entry (skin, eye/face, inhalation).
  2. Emphasize the importance of minimizing or preventing contact with or exposure to the product.
  3. Base the recommendations on the specific properties and hazards of the controlled product coupled with a general note on the circumstances requiring the recommended PPE.
  4. Disclose at least the minimum PPE required to protect workers from the hazards of the controlled product consistent with the "product use" disclosed on theMSDS.
  5. If appropriate, explain recommendation for varying circumstances, i.e., for emergency situations, accidental release or where exposure levels have not been established.
  6. If appropriate, add a statement that since local conditions of use and exposure are not known, users should reassess PPE recommendations for differing conditions.
  7. Provide specific or qualified terms where possible.
  8. Assume employers are trained in respirator selection and use.

IWCC "Factors to Consider for Each Form of PPE for Suppliers and Employers":

GLOVES: If gloves are recommended because the product is, for example, a dermal irritant which may come in contact with skin during use, theMSDS should specify materials which are resistant to the product. It should also indicate which materials are not resistant. Glove materials may include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), neoprene, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), nitrile (NBR), natural rubber, etc. The use of the term "impermeable or impervious gloves" should be not be used since there are no protective materials that are completely impermeable. Generally, any "chemical resistant" gloves can be used for dry powders. (ref.: OSHA 1910.138).

The best protective material against a specific chemical is one that has a low permeation rate (if any) and a long breakthrough time. Tests are usually conducted using pure substances as opposed to mixtures. Since it is possible for solvents to carry active ingredients through polymeric materials, unless specific test data are available, for mixtures and formulated products, gloves should be selected on the basis of the chemical component with the shortest breakthrough time, (ref.: OSHA 1910.138).

Important local factors which fall within the domain of employers include quantity of product handled, process equipment, ventilation, confined space conditions, contact time, temperature, material grade and humidity.

In addition to manufacturers' data, a general reference for the selection of CPC is the ACGIH 1991Guidelines for the Selection of Chemical Protective Clothing. This guideline includes degradation and permeation test data from manufacturers, vendors and independent labs with recommendations for over 300 chemicals. As no analogous guideline has been published in Canada, many organizations in Canada use the ACGIH guideline as a reference.

Footwear: Where normal footwear is not appropriate, suppliers should specify the material of the footwear, height on the lower leg, nature of tread, etc..

Clothing/other: If appropriate, other types of clothing may also be recommended such as aprons, vests, coveralls, suits, etc., and material type, e.g., neoprene, nylon, etc.

Eye/face:If the product is likely to pose an eye hazard, eye protection should be recommended.CSA Standard Z94.3-M1982 "Industrial Eye and Face Protectors" provides selection information for eye and facewear.

Respirator: A supplier's recommendation for respiratory protection should also be consistent with the "product use" disclosed on theMSDS and should afford a level of protection against overexposure to the chemical or product (i.e., to prevent exceeding regulated exposure limits).

Important local conditions to be considered by the employer include: period of time the respirator is required, chemical concentration, activity level of workers, functional capabilities and limitation of respirators of various types, respirator protection factors, respirator fit, etc..

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has published Z94.4-93, Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. This standard has been adopted by the federal government and by most provinces. In general, this standard states criteria that must be considered in the selection of respirators. It also describes the suitability of a particular respiratory protective device for oxygen deficient or immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) atmospheres.

Canadian and OSHA regulations require the use of an approved respirator. In theU.S., respirators are tested at theNIOSH Testing Laboratory in Morgantown, West Virginia, in accordance with the requirements of 42 CFR Part 84 (previously 30 CFR Part II). Under the new Part 84 (effective July 10, 1995), respirators are now approved solely byNIOSH. Under the old Part II, respirators were jointly approved byNIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).CSA recognizes theNIOSH approvals.

Sample PPE Recommendations:

ANIOSH approved air purifying respirator with an organic vapour cartridge or canister may be permissible under certain circumstances where air borne concentrations are expected to exceed exposure limits. Protection provided by air purifying respirators is limited. Use aNIOSH approved positive pressure air supplied respirator if there is any potential for an uncontrolled release, exposure levels are not known, or any other circumstances where air purifying respirators may not provide adequate protection.

This material does not have established exposure limits. Wear aNIOSH approved positive pressure air supplied respirator in situations where there may be potential for airborne exposure.

Wear aNIOSH approved full-facepiece airline respirator in the positive pressure mode with emergency escape provisions.

ANIOSH approved air-purifying respirator with organic vapour/acid gas cartridge(s) required for concentrations up tox mg/m3and an atmosphere supplied respirator if concentrations are higher or unknown.

For most conditions, no respiratory protection should be needed, however, in dusty atmospheres, use aNIOSH approved dust respirator.

Wear safety glasses with side shields (or goggles) and a face shield.

Nitrile rubber andPVC are not suitable protective materials; Neoprene is recommended.

The following glove(s) materials may provide adequate protection against permeation: butyl rubber, neoprene, natural rubber. Gloves of other chemically resistant materials such as polyvinyl chloride may not provide adequate protection.

Where splashing is possible, full chemically resistant protective clothing (e.g., acid suit) and boots are required.

Neoprene gloves are recommended for prolonged contact with the liquid.

For brief contact, no precautions other than clean body-covering clothing should be needed. When prolonged or frequently repeated contact could occur, use chemical protective clothing made from butyl rubber. Selection of specific items such as gloves, boots, apron, full-body suit, etc. will depend on local operation.

Safety glasses, splash goggles or face shield. Contact lenses should not be worn.

First Aid Statements - Guideline:

Recommended first aid statements forMSDSs (and labels) have been incorporated into the Health Canada Reference Manual corresponding to Item 9 of Schedule 1 to the [WHMIS]Controlled Products Regulations.


MSDSs Data Banks: