Safety Data Sheet Requirements in Canada – Do I need to update my SDS?

 In SDS: Safety Data Sheets

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

Advising clients when their SDS is three years old is part of our regular routine. We do this so you are reminded that the SDS may need updating, a reminder that your formulation has likely changed over the years etc.  The question comes up though – why do I need to update my SDS if federally the requirement was abolished.  There are many reasons why and today I’ll discuss some of them.

Let’s first dive into the history of the SDSs. I have been working on SDSs for more than 22 years now and much has changed since I started all those years ago. Under the older Controlled Products Regulations (CPR), an SDS was REQUIRED to be updated every 3 years regardless if any changes were required. The SDS date needed to be within 3 years. What do we do now though since the GHS regulations IN CANADA advised that three-year renewals aren’t required? There is misleading information out there about what one should do with their SDSs and we are here to help.

When the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) regulations came into effect in Canada, the three-year renewal period was abolished FEDERALLY. As I have discussed in previous blogs, the three-year effect remains in effect in some provinces which means that you do need to update your SDS if you are selling to these provinces. If you are selling to those provinces, please ensure that your Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are up-to-date and reviewed every three years.

WHMIS has provided a great resource online where you can check for the regulations in the provinces you sell to. I would suggest determining the provinces you are selling to and checking their requirements.

If we look at the federal regulations, there is a section that discusses ‘significant new data’.  What does this term mean? The Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) states in section 5.12 (1) the definition of significant new data. Significant new data is that which changes the hazard classification of the product as a whole. If significant new data comes about for an ingredient within your product or for the product as a whole, there is a requirement to update your SDS. The sale of a hazardous product for which new significant data becomes available MUST be updated within 90 days. You will be in violation of the law if you do not update your SDS. But how do you know if new data exists? How do you know your SDS is still compliant if YOU did not author it yourself and you don’t own an authoring system to help you determine this?

If you are not the individual authoring your SDSs, this is difficult to determine. This is not something that you can do quickly. New data is constantly becoming available that has the potential to impact your overall classification. At Dell Tech we pride ourselves on keeping the information on our raw materials up-to-date. New information that can impact a classification can include, but is not be limited to, new toxicity LD50/LC50 data which can have a significant impact on your overall classification. Without doing a recalculation of the product toxicity, your product may not have the correct toxicity class for GHS. New information can also include irritation studies. Perhaps there is new information indicating that a particular chemical is no longer considered irritating to the eyes, skin, or respiratory tract. When there was the switch from the old CPR to the new HPR, there were many instances where a product went from hazardous to non-hazardous based on the new criteria. Some companies may have assumed that a product that was an irritant in the past was an irritant with the new regulations and this is simply not the case.

Where are you getting this data? Are you depending solely on the authoring software? Most software systems are not updated consistently and this puts you at risk of non-compliance. New information is constantly becoming available from data sources such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Health Canada provided some classification information through their Hazardous Substance Assessments (HSA). Were you aware of this list? Many chemicals are on specific lists that can impact your classification such as those of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Is a chemical now considered carcinogenic but was not in the past? These lists change and if a product is now considered a carcinogen, your SDS and label must reflect this change.

Without delving into your product formulation, checking with your mixture suppliers, etc, there is no way for you to know if a classification change is required. You could be putting your company at risk with Health Canada if you are not reviewing your formulations consistently thereby you would be in VIOLATION of the law. At Dell Tech, we continue to advise our clients when their SDS is three years old to help with your compliance requirements.  We also update you throughout the three year period if there is a significant change in classification for specific chemicals. Ultimately, however, you are responsible for the Safety Data Sheet you are providing your clients.

If you would like further information on your safety data sheet requirements or are interested in updating your existing documents to be in compliance with the HPR, please contact us. We’d be happy to help you with the process.

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.

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