Confidential Business Information (CBI)
For hazardous products (formerly Controlled Products), WHMIS requires suppliers and employers to:
- Disclose the identity of hazardous chemicals and their associated hazards.
- Provide safe use and handling information on a safety data sheet (SDS - formerly MSDS) and label.
To protect Confidential Business Information (CBI), there is a mechanism to exempt suppliers and/or employers from some of these requirements. Health Canada is responsible for administering this mechanism through the review of claims for exemption.
Claims for Exemption
A supplier, within the meaning of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), may file a claim for exemption from disclosure of one or more of the following:
- the chemical identity and/or concentration of a trade-secret hazardous ingredient; and,
- the name of a toxicological study that identifies a trade-secret hazardous ingredient.
An employer who is subject to the Canada Labour Code (CLC) or provincial/territorial occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation may file a claim for exemption from disclosure of one or more of the following:
- the chemical identity and/or concentration of a trade-secret hazardous ingredient;
- the name of any toxicological study that identifies a trade-secret hazardous ingredient;
- the name of a hazardous product; and,
- information that could be used to identify the supplier of a hazardous product.
Brief Overview of Process
Following filing of a complete claim for exemption, Health Canada will conduct a preliminary assessment and issue a Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA) Registry Number (HMIRA RN). This HMIRA RN allows the supplier to continue selling, or the employer to continue using, the product until the complete assessment is done.
The complete assessment evaluates the claim validity and the compliance of the SDS and/or label content.
If the claim is determined to be valid, the supplier may continue selling, or an employer may continue using, the product without disclosing the exempted information for a period of three years, after which the exemption expires. At that time, the supplier or employer must refile the claim if they wish to continue to protect the CBI, and a new HMIRA RN will be issued.
The HMIRA provides an appeal mechanism for Health Canada’s CBI decisions.
Protection of CBI
The Confidential Business Information (CBI) may be replaced with wording such as:
- Trade secret
- The HMIRA RN
The SDS and/or label must show the HMIRA RN and the date filed or the date granted, as appropriate. Suppliers (or employers) who apply to withhold CBI must continue to meet label and SDS requirements. These requirements include the details of any safety precautions workers need to take when using the product and the first-aid treatment required in the case of exposure.