Workplace Hazardous Materials information System (WHMIS) and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a comprehensive communication system for safe management and use of hazardous materials that is legislated by both the federal and provincial jurisdictions.
As of February 2015, the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals is in force in Canada. WHMIS 2015 is the term used to describe the new amendments to the current regulations which align the previous WHMIS with the internationally recognized GHS. This means that there will be some changes to the hazard pictograms, labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS now SDS).
We are currently in the first phase of the transition into WHMIS 2015. This means that manufacturers and suppliers have the option to use the old WHMIS symbols OR the new GHS recognized symbols. This transition period will allow users to become familiar with the new pictograms and labels. For more information on the new WHMIS regulations and transition periods, please visit the following resources:
- CCOHS WHMIS 2015 answers
- Regulation 860, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
- Guide to Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System – stay tuned for WHMIS 2015 updates!
- WHMIS 2015/GHS pictogram info sheet
It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure the WHMIS program is implemented. This includes the following:
- Identifying products that are controlled under WHMIS
- Maintaining the chemical inventory
- Ensuring that products are correctly labelled
- Ensuring that SDSs are available
- Ensuring that workers under their supervision have completed training
- Providing training to those working with these products as to their use, storage, and handling
- Ensuring that information is understood by the worker
The worker has the responsibility to comply with the WHMIS program. Worker responsibilities include:
- Participating in WHMIS training before working with chemicals
- Following procedures laid out by the supervisor
- Using the equipment that has been provided in a safe and appropriate manner
- Reviewing Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels before working with a new chemical
- Immediately bringing items of concern to the attention of the supervisor.