Introduction To The Worldwide Regulations For Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Materials

One of the most important aspects of producing and marketing fuels and chemical products is safe transportation. Shipping of these goods is governed by national and international regulations applicable to many industries. Even small quantities of goods imported into Canada from just across the US border must be in compliance with federal regulations in both countries.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods
If your company transports certain goods to, from, or within Canada, it must meet the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (TDGA). Canadian TDGregulations set forth details regarding the shipment of hazardous materials by truck, rail, plane, or ship. Different provinces and territories may have their own rules, but all follow the TDG regulations. Any changes to these regulations impact all Canadian companies.

United Nations
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals was adopted by members of the United Nations in 2003. The UN guidelines establish classifications for physical health risks and environmental hazards, and specifies what information should be included on container and shipping labels and safety data sheets (SDS) for hazardous substances. Canada was an active participant in developing the GHS and helps to maintain and coordinate use of the system.

OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the US equivalent to Canada’s Department of Health. In 2009 OSHA proposed aligning its Hazard Communication Standard to the international GHS standards. Both the US and Canadian systems are now conforming to UN guidelines.

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is Canada’s standard for hazard communications. It’s core components are hazard classification, cautionary labels, provisions for material SDSs, and education and training programs for those working with dangerous substances. The WHMIS system has undergone several changes, but is in full compliance with the UN system being used by other trading partners such as the US and EU. Canadian companies are allowed a certain grace period of transition between the original 1988 and new GHS versions, but all companies will soon be required to fully comply with new labeling and safety sheet requirements.

The National Fire Protection Association is a non-profit organization originating in the US and now recognized globally. It has established codes for labeling commercial products in order to promote safe handling and storage of hazardous substances. These include the use of diamond-framed icons as symbols identifying the nature of the hazard. The NFPA and the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals recently announced plans to cooperate on issuing safety literature in both English and French.

While many countries now follow the GHS standards, local laws will still remain in effect. This leads to a very complex system of international regulation that often requires professional services to ensure compliance. Speak to an expert like ICC Compliance Center to learn more.

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