What is WHMIS?

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What is WHMIS?

What is WHMIS?
WHMIS, which stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, is Canada’s national hazard communication standard. The key elements of the system are hazard classification, cautionary labelling of containers, the provision of (material) safety data sheets ((M)SDSs) and worker education and training programs.

What is WHMIS with GHS?
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, or GHS for short is the new system for classifying and labelling hazardous workplace chemicals (controlled products) in the workplace, and has recently been incorporated as an amendment to the existing WHMIS legislation. This new system will provide an international standard for the classification and communication of information on hazardous products. Over 65 countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting GHS.

What are some of the Changes?
There have been significant changes to the federal WHMIS legislation:

  • “Controlled Products” will now be called “Hazardous Products”
  • There are 9 different classes
  • Different classification criteria
  • New supplier labels
  • New pictograms
  • New 16-section product safety data sheets (SDSs)
  • No requirement to update SDSs every three years

Who needs WHMIS training?
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide WHMIS training to all employees that may be exposed to hazardous materials in their jobs. Many employers do not realize that controlled products such as fire extinguishers or consumer goods like cleaning products are hazardous. Employees utilizing them or working in close proximity must receive proper WHMIS training. WHMIS legislation states that workers must be informed about hazards in the workplace, receive appropriate training and the program must be reviewed at least once a year. The ultimate goal is to prevent work related injuries and create a safer workplace.

When does GHS come into effect?
WHMIS with GHS became law through the amended regulations on February 11th 2015. All federal, provincial, territorial occupational health and safety WHMIS regulations must be updated and all employees must be retrained.

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