Hazardous Substances / Toxic Substances

Many hazardous and toxic substances used in New Brunswick are classified as hazardous products under the federal Hazardous Products Act. These hazardous and toxic substances are therefore subject to the requirements of Regulation 2016-6 Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Other hazardous and toxic substances such as consumer products, pest control products, nuclear substances and food and drug products are partially regulated by the WHMIS regulation. This topic and the related legislation provides requirements for any gaps for the safe use and storage of hazardous and toxic substances that may not be addressed in the WHMIS regulations. In most circumstances, WHMIS provisions will take precedence where there is any inconsistency between WHMIS and other requirements of the general regulation 91-191.

Employers must ensure any employee who handles, uses, stores, or disposes of a hazardous substance receives safety training and appropriate information about its identity, nature, and potential hazards.

A key provision is that an employer must designate one or more competent employees to be responsible for the proper handling and storage of hazardous substances. Hazardous substances must be stored according to the information on a safety data sheet from the supplier or reliable source. This includes making sure that substances that could react with each other are stored separately if contact could:

Cause a fire or explosion:

  • Release a flammable or toxic gas.
  • Create any other hazardous condition.

Employers must also:

  • Keep only the needed amount of a hazardous substance in areas where employees are working.
  • Ensure that proper emergency equipment is readily available, in case a hazardous substance is released.
  • Immediately and adequately clean up hazardous substance spills.
  • Safely dispose of hazardous substances.
  • Clearly label all hazardous substance containers to identify the contents and provide information about their immediate safe handling.
  • Ensure that the container is appropriate in its material, design, construction and condition to make sure the content is contained.
  • Ensure that hazardous substance containers are kept sealed, covered, and stored according to the supplier’s specifications.
  • Ensure that precautions on how to handle, use, store, and dispose of a hazardous substance are available on the container or on a separate information sheet near the container.

For liquid hazardous substances, employers must ensure the storage container is:

  • Supported or raised so that leaks will be noticeable.
  • Stored on a surface that will not react with the container’s contents.
  • Fitted with overflow pipes to discharge the contents into a safe area.
  • Surrounded by pits, catch basins, or depressions that can hold the entire contents of the largest container, in case of a rupture.
  • Covered with a protective coating to prevent corrosion if the container is not made of non-corrodible material.
  • Kept in a place with safe access for employees to inspect and maintain the container.
  • Not stored above a passageway.

When a container storing a liquid hazardous substance is located in a pit below ground level, an employer must ensure that:

  • The pit is made of concrete, masonry or another impervious material.
  • There is enough space for a person to pass between the pit’s walls and any tank.
  • The pit is free of water.
  • The container has a cover, and a way for an employee to have a safe entrance and exit to inspect and maintain the container.
  • The container is mounted at least 400 mm above the pit’s floor.
  • The container has a control valve designed and located so that it can be controlled and locked from outside the pit.

Unless they are unusable, empty containers that are suspected to have contained a liquid hazardous substance must be adequately cleaned. The employer is responsible to ensure the cleaning is done.

Before filling a carboy with a liquid hazardous substance, you must ensure it is in good condition. The employer must ensure a carboy containing a liquid hazardous substance is:

  • Individually encased in baskets or boxes cushioned with non-combustible packing.
  • Stored in a separate storage area or building with concrete floors with anti-acid protection or with brick floors that are properly drained to catch basins.
  • Not piled on top of another carboy.
  • Placed in a suitable storage rack or on wooden strips laid on the floor.
  • Not exposed to dampness, extreme heat or sudden temperature changes. Transported to and from the storage area by equipment designed for the purpose.
  • Emptied with the use of equipment designed for the purpose.

Employer must ensure that piping and apparatus for a hazardous substance is:

  • Suitable for the substance contained.
  • Maintained in safe operating condition and regularly inspected.
  • Identified to indicate the nature of the contents, direction of flow and other information required to safely operate the system.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act also has provisions for dealing with biological, chemical and physical agents (toxic substances). As with hazardous products, toxic substances are hazardous substances and some may also be classified as hazardous products.

Employers must:

  • Prepare a list (in consultation with the JHSC if one exists), of all biological, chemical or physical agents used, handled, or produced at the workplace.
  • Identify the agents by their common or generic names.
    • Through suppliers or others, take reasonable steps to determine and keep a record of the: (Please note: These additional requirements do not apply to hazardous products which are already addressed in the WHMIS regulation.)
      • Ingredients and their common or generic name or names;
      • Composition and the properties;
      • Toxicological effect;
      • Effect of exposure by (skin and eye) contact, inhalation or ingestion;
      • Protective measures;
      • Emergency measures ;
      • Effect of the use, transport, storage and disposal.
  • Keep the list current and provide it to the JHSC, employees and a health and safety officer, when requested.
  • Provide WorkSafeNB with the trade name, and the name and address of the manufacturer of a substance if they are unable to determine the ingredients or composition of any substances found on their list. This provision does not apply to a hazardous product.

General Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 91-191

Part VIII HANDLING AND STORAGE OF MATERIALS

Section 58 Hazardous Substances

58. An employer shall designate one or more competent employees to be responsible for the proper handling and storage of hazardous substances.

Section 59

59. An employer shall ensure that an employee involved in the handling, use, storage or disposal of a hazardous substance

(a) is trained in the safe handling, use, storage and disposal of the substance, and

(b) is provided with adequate information concerning the identity, nature and potential hazards of the substance.

Section 60

60. An employer shall ensure that a container used for a hazardous substance is

(a) clearly labelled

(i) to identify the substance contained, and

(ii) to provide information for the immediate safe handling of the substance,

(b) appropriate to the substance contained,

(c) of such material, design, construction and condition as to ensure containment of the contents,

(d) kept sealed or covered unless otherwise specified by the supplier, and

(e) is stored in accordance with the specifications of the supplier.

Section 61

61. An employer shall ensure that the precautions to be taken in the handling, use, storage and disposal of a hazardous substance are available on the container or on a separate information sheet kept near the container.

Section 62

62. An employer shall ensure that a container used for storing a liquid hazardous substance

(a) is supported so that any leakage from the container is noticeable,

(b) is placed on a foundation which resists the reaction of the contents of the container or the contents of other containers,

(c) is provided with overflow pipes which discharge into a safe area,

(d) is surrounded with pits, catch basins or depressions of sufficient size to hold the entire contents of the largest container in the event of a rupture,

(e) is covered with a protective coating to prevent corrosion if not made of non-corrodible material,

(f) is provided with a means of safe access for employees who perform inspection and maintenance duties with respect to the container, and

(g) is not placed above a passageway.

Section 63

63. (1) Where a container used for storing a liquid hazardous substance is located in a pit below ground level, an employer shall ensure that

(a) the pit

(i) is constructed of concrete, masonry or other impervious material,

(ii) has sufficient space between the walls and the tanks to permit the passage of a person, and

(iii) is kept free of water; and

(b) the container

(i) is provided with a cover and a means of safe access for employees who perform inspection and maintenance duties in respect of the container, and

(ii) is mounted at least 400 mm above the floor of the pit.

(2) An employer shall ensure that the control valve on a container referred to in subsection (1) is

(a) situated or designed so that it can be turned without any employee entering the pit, and

(b) provided with a locking device operated from outside the pit.

Section 64

64. An employer shall ensure that a container that has contained or is suspected to have contained a liquid hazardous substance is adequately cleaned unless rendered unusable.

Section 65

65. (1) In this section

"carboy" means a bottle or rectangular container for liquids of at least 20 litres capacity and made of glass, plastic or metal.

(2) An employer shall ensure that a carboy containing a liquid hazardous substance is

(a) individually encased in baskets or boxes cushioned with noncombustible packing,

(b) stored in a separate storage area or building with concrete floors having anti-acid protection or with brick floors that are properly drained to catch basins,

(c) not piled on top of another carboy,

(d) placed in a suitable storage rack or on wooden strips laid on the floor,

(e) not subjected to dampness, extreme heat or sudden changes in temperature,

(f) transported to and from the storage area by equipment designed for the purpose, and

(g) emptied with the use of equipment designed for the purpose.

(3) An employer shall ensure that a carboy is examined and found to be in good condition before being filled with a liquid hazardous substance.

Section 66

66. An employer shall ensure that a hazardous substance is stored so as to protect the health and safety of employees, using information available on a safety data sheet or obtained from the supplier or another reliable source.

[N.B. Reg. 2016-7, s. 1]

Section 67

67. An employer shall ensure that a substance that may react with other substances to cause a fire or explosion or to liberate a flammable or toxic gas or to create any other hazardous condition is stored separately from such other substances.

Section 68

68. An employer shall ensure that piping and apparatus for a hazardous substance is

(a) appropriate for the substance contained,

(b) maintained in safe operating condition and regularly inspected, and

(c) properly identified to indicate the nature of the material contained, direction of flow and other information necessary to the safe operation of that system.

Section 69

69. An employer shall ensure that

(a) only working quantities of hazardous substances are kept in areas where employees are working,

(b) emergency equipment appropriate for use in the event of escape of a hazardous substance is readily available,

(c) any spillage of a hazardous substance is immediately and adequately cleaned up, and

(d) a hazardous substance is disposed of so that it will not create a hazard to the health or safety of employees.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
A.N.B. 1983, c. O-0.2

TOXIC SUBSTANCES

Section 42 Toxic substances

42. (1) Every employer at a place of employment shall prepare a list, in co-operation with the committee at the place of employment, if one exists, of all biological, chemical or physical agents used, handled, produced or otherwise present at the place of employment which may be hazardous to the health or safety of employees or which are suspected by the employees of being hazardous.

(1.1) Except where otherwise exempted by the regulations in respect of a claim for an exemption from disclosure of confidential business information in respect of a hazardous product, an employer, in preparing the list referred to in subsection (1), shall identify all such agents referred to in subsection (1) by their common or generic names where they are known to the employer.

(2) For every biological, chemical or physical agent listed under subsection (1), other than a hazardous product, the employer shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain from suppliers or otherwise and shall record;

(a) the ingredients thereof and their common or generic name or names;

(b) the composition and the properties thereof;

(c) the toxicological effect thereof;

(d) the effect of exposure thereto whether by contact, inhalation or ingestion;

(e) the protective measures used or to be used in respect thereof;

(f) the emergency measures used or to be used to deal with exposure in respect thereof; and

(g) the effect of the use, transport, storage and disposal thereof.

(3) The employer shall ensure that the list referred to in this section is kept current by amendments and shall provide a copy of the current list

(a) to the committee where one exists or to the health and safety representative, if any; and

(b) upon request, to an officer or any employee.

(4) Where the employer is unable to ascertain the ingredients or composition of any biological, chemical or physical agent listed under subsection (1), other than a hazardous product, he shall promptly provide the Commission with the trade name, and the name and address of the manufacturer of the substance.

[S.N.B. 1988, c. 30, s. 3; 2007, c. 12, s. 9; 2015, c. 28, s. 3]