Prepare for changes to WHMIS
By HPAC MagazineHealth & Safety HPAC General Management
Data Sheets and Hazard Symbols may start appearing on construction sites in the spring 2015.
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is changing as Canadians prepare to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Currently many different countries have different systems for classification and labeling of chemical products. This situation has been expensive for governments to regulate and enforce, costly for companies who have to comply with many different systems, and confusing for workers who need to understand the hazards of a chemical in order to work safely. In Canada, the current roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers will not likely change in WHMIS after GHS.
Products with new Data Sheets and Hazard Symbols may start appearing on construction sites as early as Spring 2015. To help educate workers about the upcoming changes, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has released a new e-course, in partnership with the Workplace Hazardous Materials Bureau of Health Canada (formerly the National Office of WHMIS) and funded by Health Canada. It is offered free of charge to the first 100,000 participants, for up to one year, and is available in English and French.
The goal of GHS is to have a common set of rules for classifying hazardous products, common rules for labels, and a standard format for safety data sheets (SDSs). The e-course, WHMIS (After GHS) for Workers, will help workers in Canada understand how to communicate hazard information through labels and safety data sheets under the new GHS requirements.
This course is suited to workers in organizations where chemical products are used and will provide participants with education on the new WHMIS as amended by the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and the proposed Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). Participants, who complete the e-course, can expect to better understand labels, recognize the pictograms (symbols) and the hazards that they represent, as well as identify the hazards represented by each hazard class. In addition, participants will also learn how to find additional information about hazards and protective measures on safety data sheets.