Sunday, November 14, 2010


WHMIS: The ‘Globally Harmonized System’ and What It Means to You

The next review in the process of legislating the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS, will take place Dec. 7-9, 2010, in Geneva.

According to Health Canada, the GHS is expected to:

• Protect human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensive system for hazard communication;
• Promote regulatory efficiency and facilitate compliance;
• Provide better and more consistent information about hazardous chemicals;
• Reduce the need for duplicative testing and evaluation of hazardous chemicals;
• Eliminate barriers to international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been properly assessed and identified internationally; and,
• Provide a recognized framework for countries that don’t currently have their own hazardous substance communication systems.

How will the GHS impact regulations in Canada?
When the GHS regulations are applied to WHMIS, there will be new rules for classification and labeling of chemical products, and the preparation of safety data sheets (SDS), as amended under the Good Government Act, 2010, from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). WHMIS will not be replaced by GHS; however, WHMIS will incorporate GHS elements.

There will be new guidelines for the following:
• Classification rules
• Label requirements
• Safety Data Sheets formerly known as material safety data sheet (MSDS) will have a format change (16 sections instead of 9)and additional content will be required.
• Some hazard classes will have more specific names
• Some new classes may be added to WHMIS (i.e. explosives – currently covered by other legislation)
• Hazard pictograms to be used instead of symbols

How will the GHS in Canada Impact Your Company?
The impact of the GHS on your company will depend upon its industry. If it manufacturers chemicals, it will have to reclassify those chemicals under the GHS rules, and generate GHS-compliant labels and SDSs. In contrast, if your company uses such chemicals, you’ll have to get updated SDSs for those chemicals and ensure that new GHS-compliant labels are on them. Although the GHS doesn’t include specific training requirements for workers who handle chemicals, under Canadian law, the employer must provide training to workers on the GHS, including:
• The new hazard classes and categories;
• The new format for SDSs;
• Understanding the information on the GHS-compliant labels and SDSs.

How to Prepare Your Company for Impact?
There are several things you can to do prepare for a GHS implementation. These include:

• Get rid of old, redundant documents;
• Set up processes to ensure outreach to suppliers occurs on an ongoing basis; and,
• Assemble raw materials in a spreadsheet or database application;
• Begin indentifying the benefits of the GHS; and,
• Conduct your own research to keep informed on GHS progress.

Canadian GHS implementation objectives include harmonization to the greatest extent possible amongst the sectors within Canada, and harmonization, as well as synchronization, with Canada`s trading partners. Be sure to stay tuned into this newsletter for future updates. New regulations coming into effect prior to 2011 will have a significant impact on your organizations. Keeping current and informed will assist your company in making a smooth transition from WHMIS to GHS in the near future.
Shawna Mullen is a volunteer of Beyond Rewards Inc, a preeminent human resources, risk management, health and safety and training consulting firm based in Guelph, Ontario. Contact Shawna at

Friday, October 1, 2010

Strengthening Communication to Enhance Your Workplace

Communication is one of the basic functions within an organization and its importance can hardly be overemphasized. Effective communication is a requirement for successful businesses, yet poor communication remains a barrier for many. In fact, poor communication accounts for a multitude of workplace difficulties including interpersonal conflict, poor productivity, legal exposure, low morale, high turnover and wasted time, efforts, and money.

Communication problems that develop in an organization are almost always solvable. Despite the fact that not everyone is born a great communicator, most of us are capable of learning. Here are some basic tips that will help strengthen relationships and enhance communication in your workplace:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Health and Safety Corporate Responsibility Enforcement

Many of us have Corporate Responsibility Statements as part of our corporate philosophy, mantras, in our vision, missions and value statements, but do we live up to our corporate responsibilities when it comes to health and safety?

The provincial governments across Canada have or are in the process of redesigning and evaluating their health and safety legislations, compliance mandates and enforcement of legislative requirements. Many provinces such as Ontario and Nova Scotia have recruited new health and safety inspectors with the hope of education and enforcement of compliance, reducing the number of injuries and deaths across their respective provinces. Ontario and Nova Scotia after extensive studies have not only hired many new inspectors but are enforcing new and existing, revised and updated legislative requirements across the provinces; one being the Internal Responsibility System.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What to do - The Ministry of Labour is at the door.

Originally printed in the Guelph Business Venture Magazine September 2010
A visit from a Ministry of Labours Health and Safety Inspector can happen at any time and not only because of a workplace accident or complaint against the organization. Inspectors today are making proactive visits to educate employers and ensure safe workplaces for all workers in Ontario.

Inspectors are authorized to conduct workplace inspections and investigations to determine whether employers are in compliance with the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Should an inspector come knocking on your door:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Safety at Home!

Did you know that 44% of critical injuries occur at home? Did you know that you are 10 times safer at work than at home?

Safety is often forgotten when we walk through our doors to our homes. Home is our safety net, our safe haven; but when it comes to working safely and thinking about protecting ourselves, we often forget about safety measures around the home.

How often have you or someone you know or have seen cutting the grass with sandals on and no protective equipment; using a chain saw without protective equipment and proper clothing; or working in the garden without a hat and sunscreen to protect you from the sun.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pandemic or Panic

Over a year has transpired since we started hearing about the H1N1 and the devastating effects it could have on our society. Was it as devastating as we first thought it might be? The WHO is admitting to not communicating the threat of the H1N1 clearly; identifying the communication issues due to the many unanswerable questions of a new virus. These unanswerable questions lead to uncertainty, creating a void that lead to fear and confusion around the globe. Our questions and concerns were not addressed as we would have expected neither from our health agencies nor from our government bodies.

Scientists noted that the virus was spreading quickly around the globe but as it was a new strain, they could not predict how it would behave, how deadly or virulent it would become. Predictions are expected to be instantaneous in today’s society. People want immediate answers – this was not evident in the communications around the H1N1 Virus.

Do You Have an Emergency Response Plan for Your Organization

On the wake of the earthquake that shook Ontario on June 23rd, 2010 many of you may be asking – what is this; why are we getting earthquakes, when we never have before! According to the CBC, the 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit Ontario with shaking and tremors felt in Montreal, Toronto, Kitchener and even Boston and Cleveland. Apparently, earthquakes are not uncommon to Canada with some 5000 per year – minor that they are, this is one of the largest we have had in Ontario. Weather is more dramatic with severe tornado’s that are more intense than ever before, sink holes are appearing all over the country (around the world); earthquakes are more intense and more dramatic in nature than they ever have been. What is this world coming to? No I don’t think the world will end in 2012, but we certainly need to understand the severity of the changes that are occurring and how to prepare and respond.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Young and New Workers - Focus of Safety Blitz

Originally printed in the Guelph Business Venture Magazine June 2010

With the school year over and many young and new workers anxious to make extra money, it is no surprise that the focus of the Ministry of Labour safety blitz over the next three months is the safety of young and new workers.

Health and Safety inspectors will be stopping by workplaces to ensure young and new workers are properly oriented, trained and supervised on the job, that the workers meet minimum age requirements and safety measures are in place to prevent injuries.

Bill 168 Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

Originally published in HazMat Magazine - Summer 2010

In a development that should be of interested to readers in all provinces, Ontario is playing catch0-up with the other provinces and jurisdictions such as the federal sphere (federal legislation governs transportation companies, banks, airlines and other federal undertakings), British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia who have all directly addressed that problem of workplace violence as a health and safety issue for years.

Violence and harassment issues in the workplace and how we handle these matters have been drastically changed by Bill 168 as of December 15, 2009 when this new legislation received Royal Accent. Workplaces across Ontario are required to develop measures to address violence and harassment in the workplace, develop policies, procedures, conduct risk assessments of their organization, and put programs and training in place for their staff.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ministry of Labour Video - Workplace Violence and Harssment

"Everyone should be able to work without fear of violance and harassment in a safe and healthly workplace. Violence and harassment in the Workplace are not tolerated in Ontario"

Minister of Labour
The Hon. Peter Fonseca
Ministry of Labour

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strengthening Employee Engagement

Originally printed in the Guelph Business Venture Magazine - April 2010
While employee satisfaction and engagement has been a topic on many human resources professionals’ minds over the past few years, it is only now starting to be considered by company owners and operators. Many employers are starting to see that successful organizations are the ones that ensure employee growth and satisfaction, not just those that hire the right candidates.

Effective human resource management and planning is required throughout the employees’ life cycle with the organization to encourage employee growth and success. Satisfying and engaging employees not only encourage critical thinking and heightened creativity; it also produces a higher quality of work and optimized performance. Organizations that are able to effectively engage employees experience lower employee turnover, see increased customer satisfaction, have a stronger team based culture with improved performance and commitment to the values and objectives set out by the organization.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Accessibility Customer Service Standard – it’s the law

Originally printed in the Guelph Business Venture Magazine - February 2010

Does your company provide goods or services to the public or other third parties within Ontario? Does your company have one or more employees? If you answered yes to both these questions, then the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) - Accessibility Customer Service Standard applies to you and you are legally required to comply with the requirements. The Accessibility Standard became law on January 1, 2008, with public sector companies required to comply by January 1, 2010 and private and non-profit organizations required to comply by January 1, 2012.

What does this mean to you and your organization? There are set requirements set out to ensure you are providing accessible customer service to people with various kinds of disabilities, in summary all companies must:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hazards Often Missed

Originally printed in the Guelph Business Venture Magazine - December 2009

As recommended by the Conference Board of Canada, businesses that wish to succeed and prosper in today’s economy need to start to include psychosocial issues in their policies and programs. Organizations that identify and correct the psychosocial issues in the workplace will experience fewer injuries, less sick time, less benefit claims, and will see an increase in productive, healthy and happy employees.

Psychosocial hazards are workplace stressors or work organizational factors that can threaten the mental or physical health of employees. Examples your organization may identify with include; work overload and time pressures, lack of influence or control over job, lack of social support from supervisor or co-workers, lack of proper training or lack of any training to properly perform the job, to little or too much responsibility, ambiguity in the job responsibilities, lack of status, rewards and appreciation, discrimination, harassment or bullying by co-workers or supervisor, poor communication, lack of respect for the employee and the work they do.