OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 29 Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

Section 403 Laboratory samples

Laboratory samples are samples containing a controlled product that are intended solely to be tested in a laboratory for purposes such as analysis, research and development. A laboratory sample containg a controlled product for which an MSDS has not been obtained or prepared, and that is packaged in a container that is less than 10 kilograms in size, is exempt from the requirements to display hazard symbols, risk phrases, precautionary measures and first aid statements if other information required by subsection 403(2) is provided.

Where a laboratory sample containing a controlled product is intended for use in research and development, it is recommended that the label include the statement “Research and Development Sample. For Laboratory Use Only. Echantillon pour Recherche et Development. Pour Utiliser Seulment Dans un Laboratoire.” The intent of such a statement is to minimize the likelihood that the sample will be used inadvertently outside the laboratory. To use the modified label, the laboratory sample must be “of a controlled product” e.g. sample taken directly from a solid or liquid controlled product or as a gas drawn into a sample cylinder from a pressurized line.

Samples intended for laboratory testing will not always be subject to the requirements of subsection (2). For example:

(a) samples of decomposition products, oxidized by-products or other altered forms of the controlled product;
(b) samples of materials that would normally fit into WHMIS Class D, but are not likely to contain a concentration of a controlled product that meets the cut-off criteria of 0.1 or 1 percent for inclusion in WHMIS. (The cut-off of 0.1 percent is used for products that are teratogens, carcinogens, respiratory tract sensitizers, reproductive toxins or mutagens. Otherwise, a cut-off of 1 percent is used unless a product is listed in the Ingredients Disclosure List at 0.1 percent.) For example, a water sample taken to evaluate contamination by inorganic lead would be unlikely to contain lead above the criterion level of 1 percent;
(c) samples collected and analyzed within one organization. In these cases, the samples are not “distributed” by a supplier to an employer and are not required to display a supplier label. If the controlled product is tested at an in-house laboratory, the sample label requires a product identifier only.

If a supplier is not certain whether a sample contains a controlled product in sufficient concentration to be included in WHMIS, the following generalizations apply:
(a) where repeated sampling is done, assessment of the sample can be based on previous results from similar samples; and
(b) where the sample is suspected of containing a biohazardous infectious material, the sample is considered to fall within WHMIS on the basis of the supplier using information of which the supplier is aware or ought to reasonably be aware of.

Sections 9 and 10 of the Controlled Products Regulations provide exemptions to suppliers from providing MSDSs for laboratory samples and products from laboratory supply houses, respectively. A supplier is not required to provide an MSDS for a laboratory sample if it is less than 10 kilograms in size and a label is applied that meets the requirements of section 16 of the Controlled Products Regulations.

A supplier is also exempt from providing an MSDS on sale or importation of a controlled product that originates from a laboratory supply house if it is intended for use in a laboratory, is less than 10 kilograms in size and the MSDS information required by sections 13a or 14a of the Hazardous Products Act is provided on the label. The information that would normally be on the MSDS would essentially be provided on the label. Since the supplier of these products is exempt from the MSDS requirement under the federal legislation, the employer is exempt from the requirements to obtain and provide an MSDS for these products at the work site.