WHMIS phasing in changes to adopt international standards
May 21, 2015
The Canada-wide Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is changing to adopt new, international standards for classifying hazardous chemicals and providing information on labels and safety data sheets. These new international standards are part of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and are being phased in across Canada between February 2015 and December 2018.
WHMIS has been Canada’s hazard communication system for workplace chemicals since 1988. It is a national system implemented through interlocking federal, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations. On February 11, 2015, amendments to federal WHMIS legislation came into force. These amendments incorporate GHS standards in Canada’s Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and new Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). All provinces and territories are in the process of amending their WHMIS requirements to reflect the federal changes.
Under WHMIS, information on hazardous materials is provided through labels on the containers of hazardous materials; material safety data sheets to supplement the label with detailed hazard and precautionary information; and worker education programs. The supplier of the hazardous material provides the labels and material safety data sheets to the employer. The employer then passes the information on to the worker and provides education programs.