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Laboratory Samples

Laboratories and laboratory samples

Under WHMIS 2015, the exemptions that previously applied to products originating from a laboratory supply house and intended for use in a laboratory have been eliminated. However, specific provisions for laboratory samples still exist. A laboratory sample is defined as “a sample of a hazardous product that is packaged in a container that contains less than 10 kg of the hazardous product and that is intended solely to be tested in a laboratory but does not include a sample that is to be used:

  1. by the laboratory for testing other products, mixtures, materials or substances; or
  2. for educational or demonstration purposes” (subsection 1(1), WHMIS Reg.).

Laboratory samples received from a supplier

The federal HPR provides certain exemptions to suppliers respecting labels and SDSs for samples of hazardous products sent to a laboratory for analysis (i.e. possession of the sample has been transferred but not ownership). The employer at a laboratory receiving a sample of a hazardous product does not have to obtain a full supplier label if:

  • the laboratory sample is exempt from labelling requirements under the HPR, and
  • an abbreviated supplier label that discloses the following information is provided:
    1. The chemical name or generic chemical name, if known to the supplier, of every material or substance in the sample that,
      1. individually, is classified in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in the Hazardous Products Act (Canada) and, is present above the concentration limit designated for that category or subcategory, and
      2. in a mixture, is present at a concentration that results in the mixture being classified in a category or subcategory of a hazard class.

The employer is not required to obtain a supplier SDS for a laboratory sample if the supplier is not required to prepare one (subsection 17(1), WHMIS Reg.). Under the HPR, a supplier is exempted from providing a SDS for a laboratory sample if:

  • the chemical name and concentration of the hazardous product or its ingredients are unknown, or
  • the hazardous product from which the sample originates has not been offered for sale (subsection 5(4), HPR).

In addition, if a laboratory sample is classified only as Biohazardous Infectious Material- Category 1, and possession but not ownership is transferred, the sample does not require a label or SDS (subsection 5(3), HPR).

If a lab sample is transferred or decanted from the supplier’s original container

No workplace label is required, but the employer must ensure that the lab sample is clearly identified through a combination of identification visible to workers and worker education. The combination of identification and education must enable lab workers handling the sample to readily identify and obtain either the information required on a SDS, if one has been prepared, or the labelling information required on an abbreviated supplier’s label (section 15, WHMIS Reg.).

If a lab sample is produced in the employer’s workplace

No workplace label is required for a laboratory sample that is produced in the employer’s workplace, but the employer must ensure that the sample is clearly identified through a combination of identification visible to workers and worker education. The identification and education must enable lab workers handling the sample to readily identify and obtain either the information required on a SDS, if one has been prepared, or the labelling information required on an abbreviated supplier’s label (section 15, WHMIS Reg.).

No SDS is required for a hazardous product that is a laboratory sample produced by the employer at the workplace (subsection 18(2), WHMIS Reg.).

Hazardous product produced for research and development

No workplace label is required on a hazardous product that is produced in a lab, not removed from the lab, and intended by the employer solely for research and development purposes. Instead the employer must ensure that the hazardous product is clearly identified through a combination of identification and education that enables workers to identify and obtain either the information required on a SDS, if one has been prepared, or such other information as is needed for the safe use, storage and handling of the product (section 16, WHMIS Reg.).