Canadian WHMIS

Canadian WHMIS what does that mean? WHMIS or Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is a program that is in place in many countries to provide a common language and system for sharing information and communication on the hazards from products that are considered controlled products based on their classification of hazard or hazards. In Canada there is a national WHMIS program which ensures consistent information and labeling for WHMIS. Each province and territory is responsible for the enforcement of WHMIS. This site provides information on the Canadian WHMIS requirements as well as the WHMIS requirements as they relate to implementation and enforcement for each province and territory. Links to the local authority for WHMIS are also included for you.

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WHMIS for Employers in Canada

As an employer in Canada, health and safety of workers is a primary responsibility. Programs like WHMIS help to provide guidelines as to the responsibilities and requirements as an employer. The Hazardous Products Act and Controlled Products Regulations are in place to cover the supplier labelling and requirements for Safety Data Sheets for products that are considered controlled products and create the need for a WHMIS program in the workplace.

A common example of a controlled product is a fire extinguisher that has compressed gas, as Compressed Gases present a hazard and are a classification of controlled products in Canada. Because of this any workplace which has a fire extinguisher or has workers who could come in contact with a fire extinguisher as part of their job need to be educated on the hazards of that controlled product.

You can see from this example that almost every workplace in Canada has a need to provide a generic WHMIS education for their employees. As you look around a workplace you may notice other controlled products that are in almost every workplace, things like cleaners, or printing supplies like toners.

When you hear the term, "generic WHMIS training" or "generic WHMIS" it is referring to learning about what WHMIS is, how products are classified, what each of the hazards means, and how to read the WHMIS labels and Safety Data Sheet. Generic means this would be necessary information to work with any controlled product. Employers also need to provide product specific information such as the actual SDS for each product and instructions on safe handling, storage, and first aid, which are found in the labelling and SDS for each product.

The generic level WHMIS is more standard and Canada wide with little difference from trainer to trainer or from one online source to another. After all the WHMIS symbols are the same regardless which province or territory you are in. It is the added step of “how to” that each employer needs to provide that is specific to each product the person is handling or exposed to that can change for each workplace.

When you look at the WHMIS requirements for each province you will see that the differences are typically in how WHMIS is implemented or enforced. The most common item is the answer to the question, "How often does WHMIS training need to be done?" or "Does WHMIS expire?" Refer to the materials for each province and territory. For certainty on any question, contact your local WHMIS authority. A convenient link is provided for each location.

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