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6. Special Applications of WHMIS

  • ISBN: 978-1-4249-6996-8
  • Revised: August 2008
  • Content last reviewed: June 2009

This guideline is being updated to reflect changes that take effect July 1, 2016 as amendments to the WHMIS regulation, Regulation 860, come into force.

Laboratories

This section describes the application of WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) to laboratories. Laboratories are treated separately in this guide because both the federal Controlled Products Regulation (CPR) and Ontario's WHMIS Regulation (Ont. Reg.) have sections that apply only to labs and not other workplaces.

Controlled Products from Laboratory Supply Houses

Is a full supplier label, as shown in Appendix II, required on a controlled product sold to a laboratory?

Not necessarily. A full supplier label is not required on a controlled product that meets the following 3 conditions [section 17(a) of the CPR]:

  1. the product comes from a laboratory supply house;
  2. the product is intended for use in a laboratory; and
  3. individual containers of the product hold less than 10 kilograms.

Instead, the supplier is permitted to apply a label that

  1. identifies the product;
  2. gives the appropriate risk phrases, handling precautions and first aid measures; and
  3. indicates that an MSDS is available, if there is one.

This label does not require a border, hazard symbols or a supplier identifier [sections 17(b) and 20(2) of the CPR].

Where the supplier does not have to provide a full supplier label for a controlled product sold to a lab, the employer does not have to obtain a full supplier label [section 13 of Ont. Reg.].

What are the labelling requirements if a controlled product from a laboratory supply house is transferred from its original container to another container?

No label is required but the second container must be identified through a combination of any means of identification and worker education. The combination of identification and education used should enable lab employees to identify the product in the second container and know where to obtain more information about the product if needed [section 15 of Ont. Reg.].

Is an MSDS required for a controlled product sold to a laboratory?

The supplier does not have to provide an MSDS if all of the following conditions are met [section 10 of the CPR]:

  1. the product has a label that contains all the information that would be required on the MSDS for that product;
  2. the product comes from a laboratory supply house;
  3. the product is intended for use in a lab; and
  4. individual containers of the product hold less than 10 kilograms.

Where the supplier does not have to provide an MSDS for a controlled product sold to a lab, the employer does not have to obtain one [section 17(6) of Ont. Reg.].

Laboratory Samples of Controlled Products

The requirements respecting a laboratory sample of a controlled product depend upon whether the sample is sent off the workplace premises to an independent lab for testing, or whether the sample is tested in an in-house laboratory that is part of the same company or organization from which the lab sample originates.

If the sample is sent to an independent lab for testing, the requirements of the Controlled Products Regulation apply to the supplier of the sample and the requirements of Ontario's WHMIS Regulation apply to the receiver of the sample (i.e., the employer).

If the sample is tested in an in-house lab, only the requirements of Ontario's WHMIS Regulation apply.

What is a laboratory sample?

A "laboratory sample" is a sample of a controlled product that is intended solely to be tested in a laboratory for purposes such as routine analysis, research and development, etc. It does not include a controlled product that is to be used,

  • for testing other products, materials or substances, or
  • for educational or demonstration purposes.

Is a full supplier label required on a laboratory sample sent to an independent lab?

Not necessarily. A full supplier label is not required on a lab sample if the following conditions are met [section 16(a) of the CPR]:

  1. no MSDS is available for the controlled product from which the sample was taken; and
  2. the sample of controlled product is less than 10 kilograms.

Instead, the supplier is allowed to apply a label to the lab sample that [section 16(b) of the CPR]:

  1. identifies the product;
  2. identifies the supplier;
  3. gives the chemical identity, or generic chemical identity of any hazardous ingredients, if known;
  4. includes the statement "Hazardous Laboratory Sample" and a telephone number to be called for more information or for emergency purposes; and
  5. has a border as shown in Appendix II.

Where the supplier does not have to provide a full supplier label for a lab sample, the employer is not required to obtain one [section 14 of Ont. Reg.].

Is an MSDS required for a lab sample sent to an independent lab?

The supplier is not required to provide an MSDS for a lab sample if the following conditions are met [section 9(l) of the CPR]:

  1. no MSDS is available for the controlled product from which the sample was taken;
  2. the sample is less than 10 kilograms; and
  3. the sample has a label that meets the requirements of the Controlled Products Regulation [section 16(b) of the CPR], as outlined in the answer to the previous question.

What type of label is required on a lab sample tested in an in-house lab?

No label is required but the lab sample must be identified by a combination of any means of identification and worker education. The combination of identification and education used should enable lab employees handling the sample to identify it, to identify its ingredients and to know where to get more information about the sample if needed [section 15 of Ont. Reg.].

Is an MSDS required for a lab sample that is tested in an in-house lab?

No [section 18(2) of Ont. Reg.].

What type of label is required if a lab sample received from a supplier is transferred from its original container to another container?

No label is required, but the second container must be identified through a combination of any means of identification and worker education. The combination of identification and education used should enable lab employees handling the sample to identify it, to identify its ingredients and to know where to get more information about the sample if needed [section 15 of Ont. Reg.].

Controlled Products Produced in the Laboratory

What requirements apply to a controlled product that is produced in the lab and intended for regular use in the lab, for example, a reagent used in routine testing?

The employer is required to make a workplace label and an MSDS for a controlled product produced for use in the lab [sections 9(1) and 18(1) of Ont. Reg.]. These requirements are identical to the requirements for controlled products produced in non-laboratory workplaces.

These requirements are intended to apply to a controlled product whose properties and attendant hazards are sufficiently different from those of its parent compounds that the new product warrants such treatment.

These requirements are not intended to apply to a controlled product that is, for example, a dilution. The hazardous properties of the dilute solution would be sufficiently similar to the parent compound that the dilution could be treated as a decanted controlled product (i.e., identification plus education). Any variation in degree of hazard between the dilution and the parent compound could be explained in the worker education program.

What requirements apply to a controlled product that is produced in the lab for research and development purposes?

Neither a workplace label nor an MSDS is required for a controlled product that is produced in a lab for research and development purposes, and that will not be removed from the lab. Instead the employer is permitted to use any combination of identification and education that enables workers to identify the product and obtain such information as is needed for the safe use, storage and handling of the product [section 16 of Ont. Reg.].

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