Health Canada Issues Interim Policy for Cleaning Products in the Workplace

Posted on: May 6, 2020

by Tammy J. Murphy

Similar to the increase in demand for household cleaning products due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a potential increase in demand for cleaning products that are used, stored or handled in the workplace.  In order to address this potential shortage, Health Canada has issued an interim policy for workplace cleaning products. Per the policy, this is only for products that are being imported into Canada from the United States.

Issued on 27 April 2020, the policy covers cleaning products that are regulated under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR), and where applicable, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA).

Products iPerson wearing PPE sanitizing office equipment - Health Canada Issues Interim Policy for Cleaning Products in the Workplacenclude the following:

  • “cleaning products with primary purpose to clean, bleach or scour surfaces”
    • Note that those products that are used to “polish, protect or improve the appearance of surfaces” are not included
  • “laundry and dishwashing products used mainly to clean”
    • Note that “fabric softeners or other products” are not included

Among other items, the HPA/HPR lays out what must be included in a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the wording for hazard and precautionary statements, the required pictogram(s) for a label, the language requirements for the SDS and/or label, etc.  The HMIRA provides further regulatory information in regard to Confidential Business Information (CBI).  The interim policy is designed to allow access to certain workplace cleaning items, being imported from the U.S., that may not completely conform to the regulatory requirements such as:

  • “the label and/or the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) may only be in one official language
  • the necessary pictograms are on the label, but are not exactly presented as outlined in the regulations
  • hazard and precautionary information is on the SDS and label, but does not exactly match the wording outlined in the regulations
  • information concerning confidential business information (CBI) is not disclosed on the label and/or SDS”.

Prior to importing such goods, there is a required form that must be filled out and e-mailed to the WHMIS Division of Health Canada.

There are other requirements that importers must follow in order to be in compliance with this interim policy, including:

  • the availability, via their website, of an SDS or SDS text and label text that has the HPA/HPR required safety information and it must be in both French and English
  • upon request, the importer must supply the SDS and label text, including applicable pictograms, to the employer(s) and/or worker(s)
  • for those areas of Canada where French is the predominant language, be able to distribute products with bilingual or French-only labels (if possible)
  • a bilingual SDS/SDS text and label text with applicable pictograms and all information required under the HPA/HPR must be provided to Health Canada
  • any CBI information that is not disclosed on the SDS and/or label must also be provided to Health Canada

A “secondary seller” who is selling these HPA/HPR regulated workplace cleaning including those that may have CBI information regulated under the HMIRA is also covered under this interim policy. The “secondary seller” has an obligation to ensure and receive proof that Health Canada has received the appropriate form for the cleaning product they are wanting to sell.

Secondary seller is not defined within the HPA or the HPR. For the purposes of the interim policy, a secondary seller is a supplier in Canada who sells the hazardous product that they obtained from the importer who imported that hazardous product under the interim policy.

It is important to note that all other regulatory requirements will be enforced.

Importers and/or sellers must continue to maintain records both on the source of the product(s) as well as its destination.

The interim policy, unless Health Canada determines otherwise, will be revoked three months after all provinces and territories end their COVID-19 related state of emergencies.

If this notice affects you, please carefully read the interim policy for full details of all requirements.

Recommended Action Items:

  • Review those cleaning products used in your workplace to determine if any products are impacted by this interim policy
  • Read and understand your obligations under both the interim policy and the Act(s) and/or applicable Regulation(s)


Health Canada, Workplace Hazardous Materials Bureau, “COVID-19 Cleaning Products for Use, Handling or Storage in Workplaces” (April 2020):

Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Hazardous Products Act:

Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Hazardous Products Regulations:

Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Hazardous Materials Information Review Act:

Please see our previous article, “US/Canada Issue Joint Guidance on Hazard Communication Requirements,” for additional information on the joint guidance posted by OSHA and Health Canada:

For information in regards to the interim policy for household cleaning products and hand/body soaps, please reference our previous article, “Health Canada Issues Interim CCPSA/FDA Policy Concerning Household Cleaning Products and Hand/Body Soaps:”


Health Canada, WHMIS, HPA, HPR, HMIRA, Workplace Cleaning Products

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