Expedited access to cleaning products used in the workplace to help fight COVID-19

Starting date:
April 27, 2020
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Chemicals, Specialized Products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Supply, Labelling and Packaging, Product label update
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-72889

Last updated:

April 27, 2020
For immediate release

Summary

Products: Cleaning products used, handled or stored in the workplace
Issue: Health Canada is facilitating access to supplies of these products to help fight COVID-19.
What to do: Check this web page regularly for updated information on new supplies being made available in Canada.

Issue

In light of the unprecedented demand and urgent need for products that can help fight COVID-19—including cleaning products—as an interim policy, Health Canada is facilitating access to products that may not fully meet current regulatory requirements.

In Canada, certain cleaning products used in the workplace are regulated under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA). These products are typically subject to various regulatory requirements, such as bilingual labelling.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Canada has implemented an interim policy to facilitate access to cleaning products used, handled, or stored in workplaces coming from the United States into Canada that are not fully compliant with existing regulatory requirements (e.g., unilingual labelling, information or pictograms not exactly as outlined in the regulations). However, the interim policy does not change the enforcement priority for all other regulatory requirements under the applicable regulations. The interim policy will only apply during the pandemic. After the pandemic, Health Canada will again enforce all hazard information and labelling requirements for these products.

In addition to providing Health Canada with the necessary information, importers of these products must also provide labelling text on their website in both official languages which can be viewed by workers and employers in Canada.

The HPA sets the foundation for hazard communications in an occupational setting, where workers may be repeatedly exposed to, or exposed to large quantities of, chemicals, putting them at greater risk of injury or illness than the general population. For this reason, the HPA is hazard-based, in that it seeks to characterize the inherent dangers associated with hazardous substances.

The Department will continue to update Canadians on any further efforts to increase supplies of cleaning products used in the workplace that can help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for manufacturers and importers

  • Before importing products under this interim policy, importers are required to fill out a form and email it to hc.whmis-simdut.sc@canada.ca.
  • Importers must also:
  • make available on their website a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or SDS text and label text with the safety information required under the HPA, in both official languages
    • the SDS and label text, including pictograms as appropriate, must be available to employers and workers upon request
    • mock-up labels are not necessary
  • distribute—if possible—any products that already have bilingual or French-only labels to regions of Canada where the population speaks and understands mainly French
  • provide Health Canada with a bilingual SDS or SDS text and label text, including pictograms as appropriate, containing all of the safety information required under the HPA
  • provide Health Canada with the confidential business information if this information is not disclosed on the label or SDS because of trade secrets

Information for workers

  • Continue to use cleaning products in your workplace as you did before while following instructions on the label and associated SDS and practising physical distancing.
  • It is important that you understand the hazards that a product can present from its long-term or repeated use and your exposure, as well as how to handle and store the product safely, and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • This interim policy will help ensure that adequate supply of cleaning products continues to be available in Canada. The risk to Canadians of allowing non-compliant labels is low, as long as workers use these products as directed.
  • When cleaning and disinfecting, never mix hazardous chemicals. Some mixtures can produce harmful gases. Avoid poisoning by reading and following the directions on products before using them.
  • Consult the list of forms received from importers for cleaning products for use, handling or storage in workplaces to find information on the products you are using in the official language of your choice.
  • If you have any questions, contact your occupational health and safety regulatory agency for information about workplace safety.
  • Report any incidents involving hazardous products used in the workplace to the designated person within your organization.

Information for employers

  • Understand and comply with your jurisdiction's occupational health and safety legislation andpurchase cleaning products that are intended for use in the workplace.
  • You should also contact your occupational health and safety regulatory agency for any information about workplace safety.
  • If you do buy and use products found on the list of forms received under this interim policy, you are encouraged to refer to the links provided by the supplier and provide this information to your employees before they use them.

Media Inquiries:
Health Canada
(613) 957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

Public Enquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866-225-0709
hcinfo.infosc@canada.ca