WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Info System)
What is WHMIS?
-WHMIS protects the health & safety of employers & workers by providing info about it: if
chemical is hazardous, what the hazard is, how chemical should be used, handled, stored &
properly disposed. Respecting chemicals will protect workers from injuring themselves/others
on the job & at home
-WHMIS is a Canada wide standard that focuses on the safe use of hazardous materials,
safe handling of hazardous material, proper storage of hazardous materials & proper
disposal procedures for hazardous materials.
-WHMIS is implemented through coordinated federal, provincial & territorial legislation incl
Hazardous Product Act & Controlled Products Regulation. Each specific province has
WHMIS laws that apply to businesses in those province although there are many similarities
across Canada incl worker training & education, label & MSDS.
-The components of WHMIS are labelling, MSDS & worker training. WHMIS has 3 key parts:
-Product warning labels=workers must be able to immediately see that a hazard is
present. All chemicals controlled under WHMIS must be stored in their original containers &
carry a WHMIS warning label incl. WHMIS warning symbols, etc. If the material is transferred
from its original container, a workplace label must be put on the new container.
-MSDS=suppliers of the hazardous material must provide detailed info to employers
& workers about hazardous WHMIS products used in Cdn workplaces. MSDM must be
available to you for every WHMIS controlled chemical you work w/ in a workplace.
-Employee training=WHMIS standard states that employees have the “right to know”
meaning the right to be told about any pot hazardous materials you work w/ in your job.
Employer must provide you w/ training, instruction & information about these materials.
Training should be 2-part. Part I provides general info about WHMIS & part II is job-specific
training on each hazardous material that you are likely to be working w/ or near
-When it comes to WHMIS, it’s a joint responsibility b/w the employer & employee.
Employers are responsible for establishing edu & training programs for workers, must make
sure products are labelled, must ensure MSDSs are available & appoint competent
supervision. Employees must participate in the training, apply the safe practice they learn &
inform employer when labels are damaged/missing. Suppliers are responsible for ensuring
products are labelled & for providing current MSDS but some products are exempt from
WHMIS req but employer must still train you on hazards assoc’d w/ these substances.
Recognizing Hazardous materials
-Hazardous materials can enter the body by breathing in, absorbing through your skin,
injected through your skin, eat/drink it, transfer it from hands to mouth/eyes, can be struck by
an explosion or severely burned.
-You can recognize hazardous materials by reading the labels & reviewing MSDS & looking
at WHMIS symbols.
-Class A: Compressed Gas=can explode & take off like a rocket, eg. propane tanks,
fire extinguishers, helium tanks
-Class B: Flammable/Combustible material=can burst into flames very suddenly if
there is contact w/ an ignition source, eg. gasoline, degreasers, solvents, aerosol
-Class C: Oxidizing material=feed O2 into any fire making it larger & hotter, eg.
-Class D1: Poisonous & Infectious Material (acute)=can cause immediate & serious
poisoning, eg. bleach, NH4
-Class D2: Other toxic effects (chronic)=can cause slow poisoning & long-term
illness, eg. varsol, paint thinners, gasoline (ingested/absorbed through skin)
-Class D3: Biohazardous infectious material=can give you serious infectious disease
=, eg. bodily fluids—blood & urine. -Class E: Corrosive material=can seriously harm eyes/burn skin, eg. oven cleaners,
industrial laundry detergent, floor strippers
-Class F: Dangerously Reactive material=can explode from vibration, shock/ sudden
temp change, eg. O2 destainer. Rare to see in the service sector
-Supplier labels are different from workplace levels in that they contain 7 pcs of info: product
name, WHMIS symbol, risk phrases, precautionary measures, first aid measures, supplier
identifier & MSDS statement; be in English & French, have distinctive slashed border.
-Workplace labels must be in English & any other lang commonly spoken in the workplace &
contain 4 pieces of info: product name, safe handling info, MSDS statement & WHMIS
-Consumer Warning label system: precautions should be taken when using any chemical &
you can recognize these by their labels. Instead of WHMIS symbols, consumer warning
labels appear on common consumer products that contain harmful/hazardous chemicals;
you may use some of these products on the job/at home. Products containing these labels
are available through retail environments. There are 5 categories for these symbols &
framed in shapes: stop sign shape (3/5 categories have this b