Alberta WHMIS

If you are an Employer in Alberta, what do you need to know about WHMIS? Do you have a responsibility to educate your workers on Canadian WHMIS? As you can see in the pages on this site WHMIS is a federal or Canada-wide program when it comes to the classifications of controlled products, the WHMIS symbols, and labelling requirements. And each province and territory (jurisdiction) has their own regulations that apply to how WHMIS is enforced in that jurisdiction. In addition to this convenient summary we have included a link to the Alberta WHMIS requirements for employers.

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Alberta WHMIS for Employers

WHMIS in Canada is a combination of federal, provincial, and territorial legislation. The federal components are the Hazardous Products Act and the Controlled Products Regulations. When people talk about employers having a requirement to educate their workers on WHMIS, they are talking about educating them on the information from the federal act and regulations.

This ensures that the WHMIS symbols, classifications of hazards, and labelling for WHMIS are the same for Alberta WHMIS as they would be for any other province or territory making the WHMIS course materials standard across Canada when it comes to the information workers need to know from the WHMIS legislation. This national consistency is an important part of the Canadian WHMIS program.

In Alberta and the other provinces and territories, there is also local legislation and regulation for the implementation and enforcement of WHMIS. In Alberta this is covered in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Part 29.

As an employer in Alberta, do I need to educate and train my employees on WHMIS?
The simple answer to this question is Yes, it is a requirement for employers to educate their workers on WHMIS, where controlled products are present in the workplace. This includes education on what WHMIS is, the classifications of hazards, labelling and how to read a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and is often referred to as "Generic WHMIS" because it would be the same training materials for any workplace regardless of the products used in the workplace and regardless of the types of hazards from these products. The employer has a second part to this responsibility and that is to provide more product specific or site specific training on the products and hazards that are applicable to the work that employee is performing and the products they would handle or be in contact with. The Alberta WHMIS requirements specifically address the need for employers to provide Generic WHMIS Education and worksite specific WHMIS training.

How frequently do I need to train my workers on WHMIS in Alberta?
This is the question that can have a different answer from province to province and territory. It is the regulatory authority in each province or territory that sets the answer to this question. In Alberta employers who have controlled products in the workplace or workers exposed to controlled products must have a WHMIS program in place – the WHMIS law does not specify how frequently employers must provide education to their employees – instead, the law provides a standard for the effectiveness of the training and requires that the standard be achieved on an ongoing basis. To decide if this standard has been achieved an employer may use a WHMIS testing process and or use job observations to assess or measure the effectiveness of their WHMIS education and training programs.

Do I need to have a WHMIS Certificate for my employees?
Alberta WHMIS laws do not currently require employers to issue a certificate to their employees. A WHMIS Certificate or WHMIS Card can be issued by the person or organization which provides WHMIS education, training and testing.

While Alberta WHMIS laws do not require that a WHMIS certificate is issued. It is becoming common that workers from one organization are off site on other organizations work sites. In this case where you have workers on my job site, I can require you to show some form of proof that your employees have had “Generic WHMIS education and training”. Having a WHMIS Card or Certificate is a common way that contract workers or workers who work off site are able to provide documentation for their training.

WHMIS certificates typically include the person’s name, company employed by, a testing or training date and a test score if applicable. Most importantly is information on who issued the WHMIS certificate as a way for to assess the components of, credibility of the training, or verify the course completion details.

When you have questions about local WHMIS requirements you can contact the jurisdiction that regulates WHMIS for Alberta. More information is available at this link on the Alberta Human Services site, http://work.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety.html

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