Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems
("WHMIS") is a legislative and regulatory collection of
informational systems, education courses and workplace requirements
designed to make Canadian workplaces as safe as possible for
workers who handle controlled products.
WHMIS requirements place the responsibility on employers to
ensure the health and safety of workers who may be exposed to WHMIS
controlled products. Employers must ensure that workers are
educated about the hazards of controlled products through general
and workplace-specific WHMIS training, required product labelling
and readily accessible Material Safety Data Sheets.
The requirements set out in WHMIS 1988 (and in analogous
provincial legislation), are being updated as the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
("GHS") is incorporated into WHMIS 1988. The legislation
is now collectively known as WHMIS 2015.
The Provinces are following suit and have amended or are in the
process of amending their provincial legislation to fall in line
with the GHS standard and to ensure standardization both nationally
A multi-year transition phase will be in effect which will allow
the use of both the WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 systems as
When an employer receives products with only WHMIS 1988 labels
and Safety Data Sheets, employees may use the products if they have
received training in the requirements of WHMIS 1988.
When an employer receives products with both WHMIS 1988
and WHMIS 2015 labels as well as Safety Data
Sheets, employees may use the products if they have received
training in either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015.
The legislative changes will be implemented across Canada over a
three year period:
Phase One – Suppliers and employers will
be able to comply with either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 from the
date that the applicable provincial regulations come into force
until May 31, 2017.
Phase Two – WHMIS 1988 Labels and Safety
Data Sheets are gradually going to be phased out, starting at the
top of the supply chain (manufacturers and importers), working
through to distributors (June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018).
Phase Three – Full compliance with WHMIS 2015 will be
implemented at the workplace level (June 1, 2018 to December 1,
In Saskatchewan, the provincial government has been seeking
feedback from stakeholders in relation to proposed amendments to
the WHMIS regulations found in The Occupational Health and
Safety Regulations, 1996. Consultations will remain open
until April 15, 2015 so the window of opportunity to provide
feedback is soon to close.
The status of the WHMIS changes in other provincial
jurisdictions can be found at www.whmis.org.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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